A Simple Guide To Building a Wicking Bed

Building a wicking bed is perfect for your next eco-gardening venture and a great option for the regenerative gardener!

Why wicking beds are a must for the eco-gardener

Ready to level up your regenerative gardening game? Enter the wicking bed! As Stephanie Rose, author of The Regenerative Garden, puts it, a wicking bed is like having a massive self-watering container right in your garden. No wonder these beds are a hit among eco-gardeners looking for sustainable ways to grow plants.

What Is a Wicking Bed?

A wicking bed doesn’t look any different from any in-ground garden or raised bed. What makes it unique is what’s happening below the surface. This type of garden features a reservoir that captures and holds water runoff throughout the growing season, so you don’t have to worry about thirsty plants.

Picture this: make the reservoir base with an impermeable barrier. You’ll need drainage pipes to allow water to flow and gravel to store the water and act as a base for the soil. Place some landscape fabric on the gravel, then the soil and plants.

That’s a wicking bed!

Why Should I Build A Wicking Bed?

Did somebody say less watering with a hose? Plants drink water from the reservoir as needed throughout their growth cycles and become stronger and sturdier. There’s less water waste because there’s less evaporation when the garden gets H20 below the surface. In the era of climate change, any step we take toward preserving and protecting our natural resources matters!

How To Fill A Wicking Bed With Water

Rose recommends directing overflow spouts toward your wicking bed so you can fill them with rainwater (or manually with a hose). She says it’s best to fill it once a week in the summer and every two to three weeks in the spring and fall, less if it rains a lot where you live.

How To Build A Wicking Bed

You can find a comprehensive list of materials and directions in The Regenerative Garden and 79 other sustainable garden projects. This has quickly become one of my favorite books, and I encourage you to grab a copy!


  • 12 cedar fence posts
  • ⅜ – x 10” galvanized steel spike nails
  • Pond liner measured for the size of the garden bed plus 12” extra on all sides
  • Staple gun and staples
  • Weeping tile
  • ¾” gravel (“clear” gravel only!)
  • Dishwasher drain tube (fill tube)
  • Landscape fabric
  1. Remove all weeds from the garden site and level the ground.
  2. Cut the cedar posts to length and notch the ends by cutting half the depth of each post as deep as the width of the connecting post. Place the two notched side posts directly on the ground, notch side up.
  3. Set two end posts across the ends of the beds, with the notches facing down on the notches of the side posts. Ensure the four base posts sit flush on the ground to form a square or rectangle.
  4. Nail spikes into the corners of the posts to keep them in place. Add more layers until you reach the desired bed height, nailing the posts in place as you go.
  5. Install the pond liner at the bottom of the bed by placing it on the ground and letting it reach about 10” up the sides. Secure temporarily with staples until the gravel holds it down.
  6. Place coils of weeping tile in the bottom. The tile will help the water move through the reservoir.
  7. Connect a fill tube to the weeping tile. The fill tube makes things much easier once the soil goes into the bed.
  8. Add the gravel. The spaces between will fill with water, which will move upwards by capillary action.
  9. Cover the gravel with landscape fabric to keep the soil out of the reservoir. Now add at least 12” of soil and get planting!
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Catherine Sherriffs

Editor at Garden Culture Magazine

Catherine is a Canadian award-winning journalist who worked as a reporter and news anchor in Montreal’s radio and television scene for 10 years. A graduate of Concordia University, she left the hustle and bustle of the business after starting a family. Now, she’s the editor and a writer for Garden Culture Magazine while also enjoying being a mom to her three young kids. Her interests include great food, gardening, fitness, animals, and anything outdoors.