Answer: In the relatively short height range you are asking about, I can think of only smaller cultivars of barberry (Berberis) as a thorny low maintenance shrub that could be planted as a hedge and left unpruned. Although considered a very low maintenance shrub, these would still need regular watering the first year while becoming established, and would need regular monitoring thereafter to make sure there is nothing unusual happening to them such as a pest or disease problem. Weeding between them would be another maintenance consideration. Your local professional nursery staff and/or county extension may have additional suggestions based on a more detailed understanding of the project.
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