How to Make a Wicking Bed | DIY Garden Projects | Gardening Australia

Gardening in drought? Learn how to make your own wicking beds from recycled plastic IBCs – a great way to save water and grow vegies in a hot, dry climate.

Consistent moisture is the key to growing most vegies and in hot, windy weather it can be a challenge. A simple solution is to create self-watering or ‘wicking’ garden bed, where a reservoir of water is contained in the base. The soil acts as a ‘wick’ drawing the water up into the root zone of the vegies ensuring moisture is available, whenever they need it.

IBCs can be purchased from transport companies and will make 2 beds as they are cut in half horizontally. Make sure you obtain ‘food grade’ IBC’s that have not been used to transport chemicals.


– Cut the IBC in half. Sophie used an angle grinder which is able to cut both the metal cage and plastic container. (Please take care and follow all safety instructions when using power tools. If you are not comfortable using power tools to cut the IBC in half, please seek advice from your hardware store on manual cutting alternatives.)

01:34 – Separate the two halves and undo the screws that hold the metal cage to the plastic.

– Turn the metal cage upside-down so the sharp cut edges are facing down. File off any remaining sharp edges.

– Re-insert the plastic inner into the metal cage, to ensure the smooth, un-cut edges of the metal cage are at the top.

– Position the IBC in the full sun and ensure it is level.


– Create a 19mm drainage hole approximately 200mm from the bottom of the container. This will be the depth of your water reservoir.

– Insert a 19mm irrigation joiner into the drainage hole and silicone into place.

– Attach a 200mm length of 19mm irrigation pipe to an elbow and attach to the drainage outlet. The adjustable elbow allows you to change the amount of water contained in the reservoir. When the elbow is facing upwards, the reservoir remains full but in periods of heavy rain, it can be positioned to drain freely.


– To create an inlet to fill the reservoir, position a length of slotted agricultural pipe in the base of the container and attach to a vertical pipe that extends the full height of the container.

– Secure the inlet pipe and fill the reservoir with a layer of scoria gravel with the finishing level approximately 50mm below the drainage outlet.

03:30 – Place a sheet of geo-textile (permeable fabric) over the scoria. – This stops the soil washing into the reservoir layer. (This can be purchased from hardware stores and some landscaping centres.)

– Add the soil mix to a depth no greater than 300mm. To act as a wick, the soil needs a high proportion of organic matter; a 50/50 blend of organic soil and compost works well.

04:04 – Fill the water reservoir via the vertical inlet pipe until water drains form the overflow outlet. Secure a piece of fly-mesh or a cap on both to prevent mosquitoes breeding in the reservoir.

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  1. Dan Moore on December 4, 2020 at 9:03 pm

    May i ask what size scoria you use in this video as some sites say less than 10mm is ideal for wicking but greater sizes are detrimental to the wicking process. A lot of landscape supply centres only sell 20mm?

  2. Senior Bob on December 4, 2020 at 9:04 pm


  3. larry h on December 4, 2020 at 9:06 pm

    nice idea ,good job

  4. readme info on December 4, 2020 at 9:10 pm

    I fell in love when I saw how you just took to the power tool with the same approach as if cutting plastic with scissors to make labels for veggie plants. The world needs more "I need to do this if I want to do that" role models like you!

  5. Simple Tek on December 4, 2020 at 9:11 pm

    Fantastic Video. It’s rare I come across a great new idea and I’m going to defiantly build one of these and do a video on it. Thank you so much!

  6. Lukáš Bosák on December 4, 2020 at 9:11 pm

    Great video. Just when you talk about safety, you should get it right. Proper PPE for grinding is face shield AND safety glasses. Sorry to be a pain, but there are thousands of people watching …

  7. Micheil R on December 4, 2020 at 9:14 pm

    Thanks for the video. I am having trouble understanding how the water will wick from the aggregate reservoir without a wick (say sand or geofabric) inserted in the reservoir. Would the spaces between the aggregate be sufficiently small for capillary action? I am building one this weekend and trying to decide if I should use more formal wick points.

  8. شركة سنارة Sennara company on December 4, 2020 at 9:16 pm


  9. Danielle Holman on December 4, 2020 at 9:20 pm

    So impressed! So easy! Can’t wait to grow some vegetables

  10. andrew carter on December 4, 2020 at 9:21 pm


  11. Jon Sommerville on December 4, 2020 at 9:21 pm

    Could you use inch gravel in place of scoria?

  12. Robert L Lawrence Jr on December 4, 2020 at 9:21 pm

    I have made a few of these in smaller containers. I was curious why you used scoria and not just hose in the bottom. It seems like the scoria would reduce the volume of water in the bottom so that you would have to water more often. Thank you!

  13. Krispy's Kreations on December 4, 2020 at 9:24 pm

    Should the slotted ag pipe have a sock?

  14. Layby2k on December 4, 2020 at 9:25 pm

    can this method be used in full garden beds with flowers, shrubs and trees/palms?

  15. Cicero Araujo on December 4, 2020 at 9:26 pm

    This is amazing

  16. Fifi Girl on December 4, 2020 at 9:26 pm

    I use a small piece of foam, round and thick. Then find the straightest/longest/lightweight stick that i can and push into middle of the foam. Pop it into the pvc and mark on the stick where empty is with electrical tape. Start filling with water and add other markers along the way in diff colours. That way i can guage full, 3/4, 1/2 etc. Takes guess work out.

  17. Love Nature on December 4, 2020 at 9:28 pm

    Thanks for sharing this inspirational piece of work 😊

  18. Stuart Edgar on December 4, 2020 at 9:30 pm

    Great informative video. Just one gripe, use a softer rain head for watering!

  19. Carlee Ann Duncan on December 4, 2020 at 9:33 pm

    I’m from Louisiana and I think you rock!! I’ve sent the video to my husband. We’re looking at making me some beds. I hope he likes it. Those totes won’t cost us nearly as much. Like $50 for one food grade. But I’ll have to drive and hour. God bless you, your family and all the seeds you sow may you reap 60x to 100xs the harvest.

  20. Alfred Zahra on December 4, 2020 at 9:34 pm

    I am from South Morang, Victoria and I am having trouble finding the parts that let the water out or to a certain level. I have tried Bunnings and I have tried Reece but both couldn’t help me with those items. Can you please suggest any establishments where I can get what you have shown in the video? Thank you.

  21. Игорь Дьяченко on December 4, 2020 at 9:34 pm

    Belarus 2020 Zabudova

  22. Sarah Mims on December 4, 2020 at 9:36 pm


  23. Percy Phelps on December 4, 2020 at 9:39 pm

    Yeah right, IBCs otherwise known as unobtainium. Dear me can’t you be more ubiquitous?

  24. chieftain 76 on December 4, 2020 at 9:40 pm

    You are a hard working lady. Awesome job

  25. Nunya Bidnit on December 4, 2020 at 9:42 pm

    Google degloved…never wear loose clothing or gloves with rotary tools.

  26. Larissa Barritt on December 4, 2020 at 9:50 pm

    Hello, I have made some similar IBC beds and am wondering how you built the wooden panelling and bench top on your beds?

  27. Henrik Larsson on December 4, 2020 at 9:50 pm

    Nice, i usually throw away IBC tanks at work, which has contained Ad-blue(water and Urea which can be rinsed out with warm water). Now i know how to use them instead 😉


  28. Robert L Lawrence Jr on December 4, 2020 at 9:57 pm

    I have made a few of these in smaller containers. I was curious why you used scoria and not just hose in the bottom. It seems like the scoria would reduce the volume of water in the bottom so that you would have to water more often. Thank you!

  29. Stuart Bone on December 4, 2020 at 9:58 pm

    I just made two of these ,remember when you turn the top half over you need to check if the lid will leak .It took a few goes at tightening the lid to stop it leaking.its easier to fix before you add the rocks and soil ,my soil is resting now with worms in it and carpet on top ,ready for spring planting ,

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