Making a garden using containers buried in the ground - any advice?

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We have a community garden in South-Eastern Spain, which is perched on a rockface - there is scant soil even in the flatter areas.

We are thinking of getting some modest beds hewn out of the rock, and then using container-planted perennials to fill the hole (using large containers with modest-sized perennials to prevent roots getting overcrowded). After placing 5 or 6 of these containers in the hole, we would then back-fill what remains of the hole.

Finally, we would add a layer of weed-prevention fabric, with pebbles on the top of the whole surface area to keep the plants cool in hot weather

The plants would be spot-watered thoroughly three times a week in summer.

We were thinking of modest-sized euphorbias, cistus, californian poppies, etc. but any alternative suggestions would be gratefully received.

We "think" (though we are really uncertain about this!) that this plan will prevent water running off down the hill as quickly, and will allow the plants to flourish in some nice organic medium. We would liquid feed them in the autumn and spring.

Are we on a wild goose chase?

Any advice at all would be appreciated.
Here for part of each year, looking after an area of community-owned gardens in Atamaria.



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Re: Making a garden using containers buried in the ground - any advice?
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2019, 03:39:17 PM »
I do this with many of my roses and have for years. It's a great strategy for conserving water and limiting over all size.

It can also sometimes be used to help prevent escape of invasive species and or damage from gophers and ground squirrels.

The long term challenge for me has been that after just a few seasons most of nutrients in the containerized soil are exhausted. This can be mitigated with fertilizers of course.

Soil subsidence is a major issue when utilizing highly organic soil mixes.  The other option is to take subjects up after a few seasons and replace the soil but most are usually well rooted through by then.

Aesthetics can be an issue but the weed barrier, stones and pebbles might be used to artfully disguise container edges.

Be aware that large planters can become very difficult to remove after just a few seasons and if there are greedy neighbors nearby they will undoubtedly invade though drainage holes.

Lifelong Gardener, native Californian, residing in Rancho Mirage near Palm Springs, CA for the past 25 years

Retired from the nursery industry. I've been playing at hybridizing roses for fun and profit since about 2000. Graduate Horticulture program Cal Poly San Luis Obispo 1982.