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Make a Wicking Bed

by Matteo Lor (follow)
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Wicking Bed
Completed wicking beds - minus the plants

A wicking bed is a fantastic addition to any backyard. Wicking beds are raised garden beds that are self watering. This means that you can go away on holidays (or neglect) the raised garden bed and know that you will not be killing all of your vegetables and herbs!

This will make 1 wicking bed with dimensions: 80cm high, 1.2m wide and 2.4m long.

Time: A day of hard work!

Redgum: 12 x 2.4m planks (cut four in half). These were 5cm thick and cost about $23 per plank including delivery.
Treated pine: 80cm high and about 2x4inch.
Screws: At least 64 screws. Must be at least 6cm long and appropriate for outdoor use.
Staples: For the staple gun
Plastic liner: Enough to cover the inside of the wicking bed. 4m long x 3m wide.
Ag pipe: 2m
PVC Piping: 80cm high (I used 90mm wide). (you will also need connections ot the ag pipe.
Scoria: 50cm x 2.4m x 1.2m = 1.44 cubic metres
Soil: 30cm x 2.4m x 1.2m = 0.864 cubic metres
Geotextile fabric (we used weed matting): 1.2m x 2.4m
TOOLS: staple gun, drills, scissors (to cut the liner).

Treated pine
Treated pine - 80cm long. Must be thick enough to support the heavy redgum.

Treated pine
Outdoor screws at least 6cm -60mm- long. Make sure you buy screws that are thick enough to penetrate the redgum and won't rust in the weather.

Treated pine
Drills - These Ryobi drills did the trick, but more expensive and quality tools would be preferable.

Treated pine
Redgum timber- 2.4m and 1.2m. We built rectangular wicking beds with timber 1.2 metres long on the short end and 2.4 metres long on the wide side

Wicking bed
Staple gun and staples to staple in the plastic liner

Move the red gum and treated pine to the construction area. If you do this too late it will be too heavy to move.
Outline the location of the wicking bed. Leave long redgum planks in the correct position.
Get two of the 80cm treated pine wood cuts and line up 1.2m apart.
Line up four of the 1.2m wood planks on the treated pine.
Pre drill two hole in each end of each plank - making sure to align perfectly with the treated pine.
Screw in two screws to each end of the plank making sure that you penetrate the treated pine. The short panel of the wicking bed should then be completed.
Move the short panel of the wicking bed across to the long 2.4m metre plank and align correctly.
Pre drill holes and screw in screws to secure the 2.4m plank to the 1.2m panel. Repeat for the other side.
Once the first panel is secure, secure the second panel, making sure that you pre drill and then use the screws correctly each time.
Screw in the remaining 6 2.4m planks of redgum. The outer box for the wicking bed will now be complete.

Wicking bed

Cut the plastic liner to the appropriate size and place inside the wicking bed. Make sure that there is at least a 5cm gap at the top so that the plastic liner cannot be seen once the soil is put in the wicking bed.


Use the staple gun to staple the plastic liner to the inside of the wicking bed. Make sure that the liner gets in to all of the corners before stapling. Double the liner over at the top if there is too much.

Wicking bed

Wicking bed

Place scoria carefully into the wicking bed. Be careful not to puncture the plastic liner, or the wicking bed will no longer work. Only add 5cm of scoria initially.


After a small layer of scoria has been placed in the wicking bed, add the ag pipe and water piping. This will ensure that there is water available for the plants at all times.
After the ag piping is placed at the bottom, you can add further scoria until it is 30cm from the top of the wicking bed.

Scoria for wicking bed

Drill a 5cm diameter hole at a discrete location approximately 30cm from the top of the wicking bed. Make sure the scoria covers this hole. It will be the drainage hole (if there is too much water).

Scoria for wicking bed

Cover the top of the scoria with the weed matting or geotextile fabric.

Weed matting

Cover the matting with soil leaving only a centimetre or two gap to the top of the wicking bed.

Weed matting


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