Posted: 08/07/2016 at 13:06
I wouldn't bother with raised beds - lots of work and investment and future maintenance. It may be easier and more effective to string a decent wire mesh fence just inside your boundary and then plant borders or shrubs in front of that or train climbers such as roses or clematis or honeysuckle to soften it.
If you really do want a hedge, I would plant directly in the soil. The best time to do this is the autumn when you can get cheap, single stem whips in bundles. This will give you plenty of time to dig a trench and improve the soil with well rotted manure or cheap potting compost if you have no garden compost.
Evergreen plants will grow more slowly then deciduous but you should have a look at pyracantha which will have spring blossoms and autumn fruits and is very good for wildlife. It also has thorns so will deter intrusions from the nasty neighbours. If you keep it trimmed on the sides, it will thicken up nicely from the base. Trim the top shoots back when about 12"/30cms below desired eventual height and the top will thicken up too.
Deciduous hedges grow much faster. Hawthorn will do 6'/180cms in one season. Keep it trimmed top and sides and it will thicken up and be a perfect haven for wildlife. The thorns will deter intruders. Copper beech is another alternative. It keeps its old leaves through winter and they drop off in spring when the new growth starts so sort of evergreen and no thorns.
Hedges need regular trimming to keep neat but you need to wait till August when birds have finished raising their broods. If you intend to plant in front of it, make a path of slabs or chipped bark so you can access the hedge without damaging your plants.
Don't worry about thorns and your toddler. Explain what they are and teach her to play safe. It worked with our daughter, now 21 and a survivor of hawthorn, holly and pyracantha hedges plus all sorts of plants in the garden.