Best of the bunch: Laurel (Prunus)
Many varieties of prunus, including flowering cherries and plums, are deciduous, but the evergreen types are excellent for screening and hedging, as their large glossy leaves and dense growth hide ugly views and deter intruders.
Meanwhile, the smaller varieties suppress weeds, providing a display of white flowers in early summer, followed by berries. To keep it tidy, prune bushes in late winter and trim hedges in late summer, using secateurs not a hedge trimmer, and dispose of the clippings, as laurel are poisonous.
Among the best types for tall hedges is the common laurel, P. laurocerasus, which will reach 4.5m (15ft) or more if left unchecked. Small white flowers appear in April followed by red berries in September which later turn to black. Other good varieties include P. lusitanica ‘Variegata’, which is a better choice for alkaline soil.