This is a design for a wicking (or self watering) raised bed that minimizes cost. It is specially sized to use standard 40″ x 48″ wood pallets to create a space beneath the soil that is filled with water. “Soil Columns” wick water upward from the subterranean pool into the soil, keeping it always moist and minimizing evaporation. The total cost for parts is around $230. Tools, soil, and plants are extra.

This guide is about 1/3rd done! More on the way soon!

1. Buy Parts and cut wood in store

You can buy wood, materials and tools from Home Depot. It’s easiest to get the wood pieces cut in the store:

12′ framing lumber with cuttings sizes, and standard 40″ x 48″ heat-treated wood pallets..
  1. Buy four 12’x8″x2″ boards. Douglas fir is fine, but really any kind will work, because we are going to waterproof it.
    1. Get them cut in homedepot according to sizes the diagram above:
      four 3′ 9″ x 8″ x 2″ boards
      four 8′ 1 1/2″ x 8″ x 2″ boards
  2. buy a 8′ x 4′ plywood board (or really any material that will stop a gopher and won’t be destroyed by water). It should minimally be 3/8″ thick.
    1. Draw the diagram below onto the wood as a cutting reference or show the wood cutter this diagram. I found HomeDepot won’t cut off the last 1/2″, if so, no worries, you can do it yourself or just let it be.
    2. Cut into these sizes, so that the pieces can fit into a normal car:
      a. four 3′ 9″ x 2′ panels
      b. one 3′ 9″ x 5 1/2″ panel
      If you have a truck, you can eliminate the long horizontal cut and change a. to:
      a. two 3′ 9″ x 4′ panels
paricle board with cutting diagram.

2. Dig a Sand Foundation

Your wicking bed needs to be close to level with gravity. Dig a 4′ 1″ x 8′ 9 1/2″ pit about 1/2″ deep and fill with stand. Use a level to even out the sand.

3. Assemble the “gopher barrier”

pieces of plywood (or similar) board assembled into 3′ 9″ x 8′ 5 1/2″

Turn over one of the boards and assemble the pieces of the plywood board into a 3′ 9″ x 8′ 5 1/2″ rectangle on a side without the pegs. Nail these boards using finishing nails This board is used to stop gophers, also to trap water in case of a leak.

4. Assemble wood boards

Place Douglas fir boards onto the gopher barrier in the manner shown above. Then put three screws into each corner, preferably widely spaced, as shown above. You will need to drill a hole before putting in each screw. Keep everything as straight as possible. It can be tough, particularly if your board has warps in it.

5. Install Dowels between levels

Dowels keep the boards from sliding when you lean on them. Lift up the stop board and use the marking tool in the dowel kit to put six marks into the bottom and top boards in the places show above. Then drill 1/4 inch holes about 1/2″ deep into each mark on both levels. Then insert the dowels into the holes, and lower the top board onto the bottom. You may have to adjust a bit to get everything to fit.

6. Drill Drain Holes

Drain holes in gopher board

Drill four drain holes at each corner of the “gopher board” about the diameter of a straw. If water leaks out of these, it tells that your pond liner has sprung a leak. You’ll need to drill from the side of the gopher board and puncture the surface at least two inches from any side, in order to avoid the wood.