When selecting plants for a hedge, look for an evergreen that has dense foliage and can withstand regular trimming. Many shrubs fit this description, and they offer a good alternative to building a fence. Hedges create privacy or act as a wind break. Most hedge plants require little maintenance, other than shaping, after they've become established.
Boxwood (Buxus) is a popular hedge plant with dense, compact foliage. The Japanese boxwood (B. japonica) and common boxwood (B. sempervirens) are the most widely planted. Japanese boxwood, which has small round leaves, can survive dry conditions and alkaline soil. Common boxwood, which has oval-shaped leaves, requires more moist conditions. All varieties can withstand regular trimming.
Boxwood grows well in milder climates, usually USDA zones 6 to 8, as most varieties cannot withstand extreme heat or cold. Boxwood should be planted in full sun to partial shade, and it requires regular watering.
Holly (llex) can be evergreen or deciduous, and most varieties have bright green foliage and small berries. One of the most well known types is traditional English Holly (I. aquifolium), which is evergreen and has glossy, green pointed foliage and red berries in winter. This variety thrives in moderate climates and will not flourish in humid or cold-weather regions. Holly trims up well, and because the foliage is dense, makes a good privacy hedge. Left untrimmed, holly shrubs can grow to 10 feet.
Holly may be planted in full sun or partial shade and requires regular watering.
Manzanita (Arctostaphylos) are fast-growing, neat-looking evergreen shrubs. Depending on the variety, Manzanita can grow to 20 feet, and may be easily pruned. The foliage ranges in shape from long and narrow to rounded, and is usually a bright green. Most varieties produce small white or pink urn-shaped blooms in late winter and early spring before giving way to red berries. The plants need good drainage and thrive in full sun or light shade with moderate water. Manzanita is hardy in zones 5 to 10, depending on the variety, and it is prevalent in California.