If you are someone who has a busy lifestyle and doesn’t have a lot of time to tend to your garden, you can look into self-watering gardens or wicking beds. The advantage of a wicking bed is you don’t need to constantly water it. The system is able to self-water because of the reservoir below.
It is recommended to have soil at a depth of 25cm so that it is able to pull up the water from the reservoir. The water reservoir can also be 25cm. If there is a large reservoir, the wicking garden beds will be able to sustain themselves over a longer time period. You can go on a holiday without worrying about your plants or telling your neighbours to water them. The base of the wicking bed should be lined with a waterproof lining that will hold the water. It should cover all corners of the beds and the edges should come up ensuring that water doesn’t leak. Make sure that you choose a thick lining to minimise the possibility of splits or holes due to damage. There should be an inflow channel that fills the reservoir with water. You can use a two inch PVC pipe for this. This should be situated at the bottom of the wicking bed. Make sure that you put an overflow valve as well at the side and this will ensure the water will stay at a specific depth. So this valve should be located above the 25cm of the reservoir.
The reservoir should be filled with fine scoria or porous volcanic rock. This creates a sturdy base to which you can add soil. This way, the reservoir will not collapse under the weight of the soil. Make sure that you select a very fine grade of scoria. You will then need to use strips of geotextile fabric that will act like wicks pulling the water from the bottom of the reservoir to middle of the soil bed. Once this is done, you can add a growing medium. Use soil combined with organic matter and compost so that the plants get sufficient nutrition. You also need to lay a geotextile sheet on top of the scoria to keep the reservoir separate from the soil bed. You need to make sure that the fabric is brought up and attached to the sides so that the soil is contained. You can staple the top part of this.
Once you have created this enclosed system, you will be able to conserve water better than other gardening methods. To ensure there is no algae growth in the reservoir, it is best to flush the water through the reservoir once a year. Once you have planted seedlings, you will need to carry out surface watering. The self-watering process will only start after about a month in. And the benefit of a wicking bed is that you will be able to keep pests out of the planting beds. When you are replanting, make sure to add compost again.