So, the hedge situation...the rest of the hedges were removed last weekend and it looks even worse than we anticipated. We had some things up against the hedges (rock pile, compost bin, etc.). It looked fine before, but now it looks like we have a bunch of garbage sitting in the middle of the yard.
Brian took care of the rock pile by putting in a dry rock foundation around the shed (the shed is raised off of the ground and the ground slopes, so there was a pretty big space between the bottom of the shed and the ground on three sides). It looks amazing! I don't know why we didn't think of this idea before. And almost all of the rocks were used in its construction, so that takes care of one problem.
We're going to move the compost bin to the garden area. This means I will be losing one of my raised beds to accommodate it, so that is disappointing. The bed is currently planted, so we won't be able to move it till the fall.
Lastly, we've decided that we don't trust the neighbor to plant new hedges in a timely manner, so we're going to plant a number of evergreen trees this fall. It's not going to be a whole row of them--just enough to block the view of their patio. Next spring, we'll fill in with some additional plants (hostas, grasses, etc.). With the sale of our house looming in the near future, we need to fix what we can ourselves.