The case of the shrinking planters

I have 16 wooden planters on my deck. I have horses wandering around the acreage who would eat anything planted down on terra firma, so my gardening is pretty limited to these planters they can't reach.
They are 3' X 1.5' in size. They are 5 years old now and the soil level has dropped enough that I want to raise it. But I have a lot of perennials like lavender, daisies, etc that were cut back properly and still live here and there in the planters. In the past, I would buy mainly annuals to supplement the resident perennials. So, experts....what would be the best way for me to raise the soil level without just uprooting everything and starting all over? Do I just go out now and buy enough soil to pour over the top, or do I wait until the perrenials get high enough so they wouldn't be "drowned" by the addition of the soil? Or something else altogether??
Thanks for any ideas
Laurie
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After 5 years the root systems have probably spread to such a degree that going in and completely rejuvenating the soil might be a good idea. I would pop all the perennials out (dividing those that need it at the same time), and then work via shovel and hoe a great deal more organic material, compost, shredded leaves, etc. into the existing soil. I would break up and/or remove big fibrous root masses and replace with new soil, then replant the perennials.
Dave

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The top of my planters are about mid-thigh in height. A totally back-breaking height for much labor. This will be interesting. Thanks for the suggestions!
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You can add soil, a little once in a while, to slowly raise the surface level but it really depends on what kinds of plants you have. Many sedums can grow on top of new soil piled on the old plants. In contrast, some irises need their roots to be near the soil level. What are you growing in these containers?
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wrote:

David's advice is probably best for a thorough job. OTOH, being on the lazy side, I would probably try gradually adding soil, compost, etc. all *around* the plants and in any visible dips. Not enough to *drown* the plants, but just to encourage them to hitch up a bit. I would not just dump in a bunch of dirt and hope for the best.
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Maybe next time you won't buy those cheap planters made out of wool?!!!
Face it, babe. No horsing around this year. You are going to be getting your hands dirty and working up a sweat.
Come springtime, you will be taking out all your plants and replanting them with fresh soil!!!

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Ah, tough love! The planters were built for me by some handymen and aren't allll that shabby. I'll bite the bullet and dig up the planters that have some perennials, I'll do a more lazy job on the planters that are just full of things like last year's petunias and such. Thank you, everyone, for your ideas!
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By the way, I live in the Northwest in the Cascade foothills in zone 6-7. The mornings are still ice-covered and frosty. Should I start this now, or when it stops freezing at night. I don't want to shock my daisies.
Another question.....I had a huge potato tree in a big round planter. It was cut back last year. Do those things come back good enough to keep him? Also, I have a very large buddleia, about 6' tall, that I cut back and all, but is still full of leaves and branches and looking pretty good. Should I scratch in some new soil and such? I got him last year and he is in his own big pot on wheels, so his soil level isn't sucky like the planters.
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On 2/23/04 10:23 AM, in article EWo_b.29196$ snipped-for-privacy@twister2.starband.net, "Laurie"

I'd wait to do the perennials until the frost out the ground.

Can you point me to a website?
Also,

At little organic fertilizer should do the trick.
Cheryl
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My potato bush. Now that I look at its specs here, why do I think a freezing winter killed it deader than a doornail..........?
Family: Solanaceae (sol-uh-NAY-see) (Info) Genus: Lycianthes (lish-ee-AN-theez) (Info) Species: rantonnetii Cultivar: Royal Robe Synonym:Solanum rantonnetii ('Royal Robe')
Category: Shrubs Tropicals/Tender Perennials
Height: 4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)
Spacing: 36-48 in. (90-120 cm)
Hardiness: USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F) USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1C (30 F) USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F) USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)
Sun Exposure: Full Sun Sun to Partial Shade
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