Good hedge/ screen plant?
I am looking for recommendations for a good hedge or screen plant to place along the wooden picket fence at the back of my property. I'm looking for something that will grow in fairly lush and will provide a measure of privacy - there's a synagogue going up behind us and although I think they'll be great neighbors, I would like to screen our yard as much as we can (bye-bye, big empty peaceful field ...)
Something that will grow 4+ feet tall relatively quickly would be ideal. I had a landcaping company come in a little less than a year ago, and they recommended Blue Angel Meserve Holllies, which I have disappointed with since the minute they went in. Just too straggly looking for my taste and they haven't thrived - they are looking pretty dead at this point despite pretty good watering throughout this dry summer. We have a one-year replacement warranty so I'm looking to get rid of them and replace them with something a little more green and lush looking. I like the look of some of the laurels (skip laurel and the Otto Luyken laurels) but I'm not sure how appropriate they are. There are already several pretty big trees along the back of the property (two cherries, a white pine, and an Elm tree) so this hedge would be right up against the fence.
I would also welcome any advice about perennials that would be appropriate for a big bed where I'm trying to create a cottage gardeny feel. It's at the top of a hill and in fact sits right in front of where I'm looking to plant the hedges. I've had shasta daisies, black eyed susans, and coneflower up there in the past but they're gone now (long story). I think we'll be filling in that bed again next month, so any and all recos are welcome!
Thanks in advance!