Posted: 27/04/2016 at 09:12
There is an apple and pear farm near here that has narrow, 9" deep hedges of single rows of beech around the orchards next to the road. They trim them once a year as far as I can tell. Very neat, quite dense, good windbreak I'd have thought. No thorns or fruits so child friendly.
You'd need to prepare the soil well and then, for economy, plant single bare root whips at 9 to 12 inches apart in autumn and cut them back to 9 to 12 inches high. You then let them grow up to the height you need but keep the front and back trimmed to make the hedge narrow and dense.
An alternative would be a fence or trellis panels which would be very low maintenance and can be stained to protect the wood for longer life and in a colour that makes it a feature or discreetly blends into the background. You could then put troughs or pots of plants in front of it, planted according to the season.