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 February 23, 2021 at 9:52 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. Jon Sommerville on February 23, 2021 at 9:53 pm

    Could you use inch gravel in place of scoria?

  3. Sarah Mims on February 23, 2021 at 9:54 pm


  4. Percy Phelps on February 23, 2021 at 9:55 pm

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

  5. Fifi Girl on February 23, 2021 at 9:55 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.

  6. chieftain 76 on February 23, 2021 at 9:56 pm

    You are a hard working lady. Awesome job

  7. Alfred Zahra on February 23, 2021 at 9:58 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.

  8. boon ang on February 23, 2021 at 9:58 pm

    Very illustrative and clear instructions. I like best the finishing. Timber surrounds provides insulation and aesthetics. 👏👏

  9. تمساح AK Gaming on February 23, 2021 at 9:59 pm


  10. Robert L Lawrence Jr on February 23, 2021 at 9:59 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!

  11. Lukáš Bosák on February 23, 2021 at 10:03 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 …

  12. Senior Bob on February 23, 2021 at 10:04 pm


  13. Carlee Ann Duncan on February 23, 2021 at 10:05 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.

  14. Micheil R on February 23, 2021 at 10:10 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.

  15. Danielle Holman on February 23, 2021 at 10:10 pm

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

  16. larry h on February 23, 2021 at 10:14 pm

    nice idea ,good job

  17. Nunya Bidnit on February 23, 2021 at 10:18 pm

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

  18. Eutimio Chavez on February 23, 2021 at 10:19 pm

    What is a wicked bed ?

  19. Stuart Edgar on February 23, 2021 at 10:20 pm

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

  20. Игорь Дьяченко on February 23, 2021 at 10:21 pm

    Belarus 2020 Zabudova

  21. Love Nature on February 23, 2021 at 10:23 pm

    Thanks for sharing this inspirational piece of work 😊

  22. andrew carter on February 23, 2021 at 10:28 pm


  23. Robert L Lawrence Jr on February 23, 2021 at 10:29 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!

  24. Cicero Araujo on February 23, 2021 at 10:30 pm

    This is amazing

  25. Layby2k on February 23, 2021 at 10:30 pm

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

  26. Henrik Larsson on February 23, 2021 at 10:31 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 😉


  27. Simple Tek on February 23, 2021 at 10:37 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!

  28. Abdul Ahmadi on February 23, 2021 at 10:44 pm

    so cool lady

  29. Krispy's Kreations on February 23, 2021 at 10:45 pm

    Should the slotted ag pipe have a sock?

  30. Stuart Bone on February 23, 2021 at 10:46 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 ,

  31. Larissa Barritt on February 23, 2021 at 10:50 pm

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

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