Wicking Bed: Build a Genuinely Self Watering Garden

If you’re looking for a highly productive and elegant growing system that is genuinely ‘self watering’, the wicking garden or a wicking bed is the solution. Wicking is an innovative veggie bed irrigation solution with a waterproof lining that holds a reservoir of water at the bottom from which water is draw upwards like a wick to the surface of the bed via natural soil osmosis or through the roots of plants in the bed. Basically it works like large Decor self-watering pot.


Wicking beds are usually made with timber sides and a pond liner at the bottom to act as a water reservoir, but they can also be made  out of plastic tubs or any other container that holds water and does not corrode when in contact with soil.

There are many different wicking bed designs involving a variety of construction materials however this website only looks at ones that I have made and tested myself. We wanted to let you all in on the little secrets behind how to make a successful wicking garden. This is an example of a customer’s project.

We needed the following materials:

  1. Western Red Cedar
  2. Galvanized Corner Brackets (that we make)
  3. Screws & Washers
  4. Weed Barrier
  5. At least 45 MM rubber pond liner
  6. Geotextile Pond Underlayment
  7. PVC Pipe and Couplings
  8. A toilet flush valve (you’ll see)
  9. Gravel
  10. Soil
  11. Water
  12. And of course the tools: wheel barrow, shovels, picks, level, drill, staple gun, circular saw.

The first thing you want to do is make a drawing so you know how much of each material and how a large amount of water you are going to need exactly. It can be as simple as using an excel spreadsheet to make a drawing, as you can see below. A wicking bed is quite a simple design as shown in the diagram below.



You will also need to remember that you are filling up some of your garden space with water. So we recommend the lowest point in your garden frame to not be any shorter than 18 inches, this way you have enough space for the water and for the soil.



Wicking Bed Maintenance

To maintain a wicking bed, flush out the whole system at least once a year. If the wicking bed is undercover and not exposed to rain, which helps flush it out naturally, consider carrying out the task perhaps twice a year.

To clear away high levels of salts that are building up at the top layers of the soil, water from above to wash them out into the water reservoir and out of the outlet pipe.

Also, remember to go easy on the fertiliser when feeding the garden bed in spring and autumn, as fertiliser levels can accumulate in wicking beds because every bit of fertiliser that you put in stay in the system unless it is washed out.

Other than that, maintain a wicking bed just like any other raised bed.

Now that you know whether you really do need a wicking bed, how it works, and how to build one, the rest is up to you! Happy growing!.

Source : wickingbeds.com.au