How To Make a DIY Wicking Bed: Video

Save time and reduce your water usage with an easy-to-build DIY wicking bed – a self-watering raised garden bed perfect for growing vegies.

As the name suggests, wicking beds draw moisture from beneath the soil using capillary action, and providing water to your plants from below rather than above has many benefits.

Not only does it save you time watering, but evaporation is reduced, the risk of fungal disease is lessened and the wicking action ensures the moisture is more evenly distributed throughout the soil.

building a diy wicking bed
Curl the pipe around the base of your container & cut to size.

What you’ll need to make your DIY wicking bed

With a bit of nous and know-how, making your own DIY wicking bed out of found objects is a relatively easy process and can save you hundreds of dollars.

  • A container (ie. an old timber fruit bin, an IBC like we have used, or any vessel that’s somewhere between 60-80 centimetres deep).
  • 2 or 3 different types of pipe
  • Some gravel or scoria (scoria’s ideal because its porous nature assists in the wicking process).
  • Some geotextile fabric or shade cloth,
  • Good quality soil that’s really high in organic matter ( the organic matter is crucial in the wicking process).

How to get started building your DIY wicking bed

The height of an IBC means you can cut it in half using an angle grinder which will give you two vessels with which to make wicking beds. 

Your wicking bed will be too heavy to move once finished, so make sure it’s sitting in a sunny position and use a spirit level to ensure it’s sitting flat. If it’s on an angle, the water won’t be evenly distributed throughout your soil.

You’re basically creating two layers within your box which are separated by a fabric membrane. The water layer at the bottom and the soil layer at the top. You want the water layer to be about one third the depth of your container, but your soil needs to be deep enough to host a wide range of vegies. But it’s also important that it’s not too deep as the capillary action won’t work.

use good quality soil in your wicking bed
Weigh the pipe down with a couple of bricks (you’ll remove these when you’ve filled your bed with gravel).

Want to know more about building a DIY wicking bed?

In Issue #27 of Pip Magazine, we bring you a step-by-step guide to building your own DIY wicking bed, including: 

  • How to build your bed’s reservoir.
  • How to create the overflow outlet.
  • Tips on filling your bed with soil and mulch.

You can access this article online here as part of our digital subscription offering, or subscribe to the print version of Pip Magazine here

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