Erica Groneman + photo

Erica Groneman

Jul 7
3 min read
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raised garden bed

What Is A Wicking Bed?

I was recently introduced to a new (to me) kind of garden: wicking beds. Maybe you’ve seen these before, or even have one or two in your garden. Similar to a self-watering pot, wicking beds remind me of how to water microgreens, but on a large raised garden bed scale. A wicking bed is a self-watering raised garden bed.

How Can You Make A Wicking Bed?

The base and sides of the garden bed is lined with plastic to collect the water, then the pipes, gravel or small stones for storage and drainage, and lastly garden soil is placed on top. The water from your hose runs through a pipe to the bottom of the wicking bed, where it is then released through a drain pipe with holes and then wicked upwards through the rocks then the soil to the roots of your plants.

Why Are Wicking Beds Good?

Wicking beds have some advantages and disadvantages. One advantage of a wicking bed is that the soil stays moist and is watered evenly. The garden needs to be watered less often because it takes more time for the soil to wick the water upwards. In some parts of the world like Australia, wicking beds are found in community gardens where gardeners only have to go once a week to water their plants rather than every day or every other day. Wicking beds also use less water, as much as 50-80% less, and avoid losing water due to evaporation.

Are There Drawbacks?

Wicking beds do have their disadvantages, however. One disadvantage of a wicking bed is that the soil stays moist. Wait, didn’t I say that was an advantage? Yes, it is an advantage for some plants, but for others having the soil moist all the time can lead to root rot or other harmful diseases. Know the needs of your plant before you plant them in a wicking bed. Another disadvantage to wicking beds is that they are more expensive and a bit more complicated to build compared to traditional raised beds. They can also take a little more care than other gardening methods (like be careful not to poke your tomato cage through the plastic liner, for example).

If you’re looking for a new way to garden, or water your garden then a wicking bed is right for you. Have you had any experience with wicking beds? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

Happy gardening!

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Interesting article. This would probably work great in this heat we’ve had this summer!!!! My plant roots came up out of the soil for water….I recently covered them w compost in an attempt to save them. Wicking would be beneficial right now!!!!


I love using wicking beds in Arizona. The upfront cost and effort was more than building a simple raised bed but it pays off in the end. Uses far less water and no worries about wasting precious water.

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