Typically found in a native English hedgerows are thorn-based tough species including hawthorn (particularly prevalent), blackthorn, wild dog roses, field maple and hazel. It’s often said that you can work out the age of an ancient hedge by counting the number of different species.
You can buy bare-rooted hedging plants online quite economically. Search “country hedging plants” to find a suitable mix of plants. Typical country hedge plants are very hardy and will thrive in open fields in most parts of the UK. Or you can plant more sparsely against wood fences to great effect.
Preparation here is all about weed control. Country hedging plants as a rule like to be planted in firm, unprepared soil. They are native to the UK and grow in a wide range of soil types and are used to poor conditions. As a rule, therefore unless your soil is very poor, like clay subsoil, it is better not to improve it. When your hedge is in, the plants will put their roots out far and wide in search of food and moisture which ensures the hedge will survive drought and is well anchored against gales, cattle, trespassers and so forth.
Weeds, on the other hand, are every hedge plant's enemy. They smother your plants and, because their roots are usually shallow, they soak up water before it reaches the hedge. A carpet of weeds can stop all but the heaviest rain wetting the soil more than 5cms down - the plants can look green and lush while your hedging is dying of thirst.
Prevention is better than cure here. Mark out the area to be planted with string and bamboo canes or sticks so you can see what you are doing. Mark a strip about three feet wide, whether you’re planning a single or double row. If you are happy using chemicals, the months of August, September and the first half of October are optimal for killing weeds using a systemic weedkiller. Mix according to the instructions and apply by sprayer or watering can on a dry still day. The weeds will start to yellow after 2-3 weeks. Any that are still green after four weeks should be given a second dose - this will get rid of pernicious monsters like bindweed.
If you do not like chemicals, then buy weed control fabric in 1-metre widths. Cut the weeds as close to the ground as you can and lay the fabric over the marked strip. Secure the corners with stones. Standing on the fabric to keep it in place, use a spade to push the fabric into the ground about 2 or three inches from the edge. Do this along the entire length, pushing it in until it’s completely tucked in and the edges are hidden by soil. This should last about 3 years before breaking down and will allow moisture through, but excludes light and so kills everything green underneath.
Finally, if you do not like plastics either, you can use organic materials such as carpet underlay, broken down cardboard boxes. I have seen people recycling estate agents For Sale signs. You can even use grass clippings in a blanket about 7-8 cms thick. A few pernicious weeds may find their way through your covering but it’s easy to pull those out by hand.