Totally agree with everything said! In addition one concept that even
the mosts fastidious retiree fails to grasp is that the actual branches
of conifers thicken and move outwards, so that even if you trim a
regular hedge line five times a year it will still advance over your
You could try Cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus), which in my book is
worse than Leylandii, or the slower Portugese laurel (Prunus
lusitanica). Both are ultimately monsters that will grow to 18m or so if
left unchecked for years. Bay is good (Laurus nobilis), but again
growth becomes exponential the more it puts its roots out with time so
maintenance is soon a headache.
Deciduously speaking the native Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) is good on
clay and a reasonably fast grower if planted as a whip and its been
around in the UK longer than Beech, which technically is a euro import.
For something completely different that fits your criteria for fixed
ultimate height and fast growth, try bamboo. Japanese use bamboo as a
trimmed hedger all the time. But do NOT use the TV gardening show
makeover Phyllostachys nigra or P. aurea - these will not be very leafy
at the bottom - (Only culms) and the leafs will all be uptop and they
will run to some extent.
Whilst a Bambusa multiplex might not grow in the UK, which is what the
Japs would use, the fargesia species are clump forming and equally good
in my opinon. Fargesia rufa and F. murielae 'Jumbo' with its more
vertical habit are the best for hedges 2-3m. Alternatively try
Chimonobambusa marmorea for a 2m hedge. Yushania anceps also is a very
dense bamboo and has glossy healthy looking leaves. You could use taller
species if you double plant and have the width. I guarantee you will
not be able to see through a 5 year old Fargesia rufa or murielae at
Of course the trouble with bamboos is they are monocarpic so when a
species flowers it dies (As we've seen with Fargesia nitida), plant a
mix of species and I think new clones of F. nitida are now available
too, so they should last another hundred years or so. Its a bit of a
change for the traditional english gardening vocabulary but with mixed
species you can get some interesting textural and colour variations.
Personally I would still choose Hornbeam as that is my favorite though!