My sympathies- our neighbour did this a few years ago. I had all the same worries about the kids outside in full view of neighbours windows and value of our house dropping because of the privacy issue
How about some bamboo in pots? Bamboo screening attached to fence also makes a good temporary option.
We started by putting up a 6 ft fence with a gravel board so just over 6 ft high (only a problem if someone complains!). I've grown up pyracantha (need to be careful with kids due to thorns), evergreen clematis and put in a small tree, laurel and photinia red robin shrubs just for the areas where I really want evergreen privacy. It's taking a few years but I do have some of my privacy back now and it's at least more interesting than the leylandii that was there before!
"We have thought about fencing just don't want to hurt her feelings really, it's such a shame but at the same time she should have thought about us."
That is the answer - a new fence.
For a quick solution I think fencing is your best option and definitely cheaper than buying large established shrubs. Your garden sounds quite modern so in keeping with that I would put some large tall bamboos in pots as they will add height and can then be strategically placed to screen where is most needed; especially if you place the pots on pot movers! If you google fence with bamboo pots you will see what i mean hopefully...
Katy, your neighbour may like a new fence, I have found, since moving to an area made up of mostly older people, that they get frightened of trees and large shrubs.
Whether its fear of them falling onto them or their property, or in the case of my previous NDN, she was frightened someone may be hiding in them, so a plain fence may be just what she wants.
Have a word with her, let her know your fears for your children, you never know, she may help out with cost if you plead!
My neighbour planted leylandii over what was once a hedge of Fuschia and mock orange.
An unforgivable crime in my book and one we have to live with. Leylandii has come top in surveys as the most of putting garden plant to prospective buyers. It also drains the soil of all nutrients. So I would think twice here.
How about a three or four foot fence with trellis on top and a hedge of Fuschia and other flowering shrubs and climbers even tree lillies or sunflowers so much fun for the children.
The low fence with the trellis will not offend your immediate neighbour whilst giving you and small ones privacy with the trellis and in a year or three a stunning border.
my sympathies katy2, the same thing happened to me last year, shrubs, trees and sheds/outbuildings all gone as new neighbours moved in. Fencing is definitely the way to go, although I have invested in a row of trees for the future too. Good luck, and hope you enjoy your garden and privacy again soon.
The original post seemed to suggest that it was the neighbour's fenceline, so obviously the neighbour could please herself, but a warning would have been nice. I don't think you can really talk about loss of house value when any plant is really only temporary. One should always have this sort of situation in mind when buying a house: could I afford to make good if the neighbours, either existing or new ones, choose to make major changes? It's the job of all of us to get on as best we can with the neighbours, but we can't expect them to run their gardens for our benefit.
I think when you've got over the shock, you'll find that a fence and some strategic planting will sort the job out.