When used for screening or as a partition/border, hedges can be much more attractive and softer than fencing and also more durable. However they will take up more space and will need regular pruning or clipping; at least twice a year if not more.
Not only are hedges attractive they are good for reducing the effects of wind as they allow some of the air to pass through, slowing down the air flow. Whereas a solid fence will just buffet the wind over top.
The following selection of plants and shrubs are suitable for hedging or screening in domestic gardens in the UK.
Photinia x fraseri