Frequently Asked Questions

 

WaterUps® Cells FAQs

What are the WaterUps® cells made from?

  • All the PVC raw material used in the manufacture of WaterUps® cells is sourced from recycled plastic. Our philosophy is that if we need to bury plastic underground then let’s make it useful!

Where are WaterUps® manufactured?

  • WaterUps® cells are manufactured in Australia in western Sydney.

What are the holes in the top of the WaterUps® cells for?

  • The holes are designed to allow water to drain into the water reservoir so that the soil does not get water logged. This is particularly important in cases of heavy rain.

Will the holes in the cells allow soil through to the reservoir?

  • The holes are designed to allow water to drain through but prevent soil particles from doing so.
  • To bind the soil and help prevent dry particles of soil failing through the holes in the top of the WaterUps® cells, lightly spray the soil mix and tops of the cells with water before adding the soil to the bed.

How do wicking beds using WaterUps® cells compare to those constructed with scoria or river sand?

  • Cost – WaterUps® cells are over 30% cheaper than scoria/river sand;
  • Installation – WaterUps® cells are easier and quicker to install;
  • Weight – WaterUps® cells weigh approx. 5kgs per square metre compared to up to 250kgs for a scoria or river sand based wicking bed;
  • Water Capacity – WaterUps® wicking beds can hold around 50% more water than scoria/river sand beds, which gives a WaterUps® bed a much longer watering time. This means you don’t have to fill your WaterUps® bed as often.

Tools, etc FAQs

What tools may be needed to install my wicking system? 

You will likely need the following:

  • A PVC / PP suitable, strong adhesive waterproof glue – to seal the inlet pipe and overflow pipes;
  • 22mm Hole Saw or speed bore – to drill the hole for the overflow pipe;
  • Jigsaw – to cut the WaterUps® cells to fit the existing walls of the raised bed;
  • Cable Ties – to secure the overflow pipe to the WaterUps® cell; and
  • Filler – suitable to block up any drainage holes in the base if you are retro-fitting an existing standard pot.
  • Gaffer Tape – to hold the pond liner and or GeoTec in place while filled with soil mix.

Pond Liner FAQs

Where can the pond liner be purchased?

Pond Liner can generally be obtained from larger hardware outlets, pond supply outlets and most landscape suppliers.

What type of pond liner should I buy for my wicking bed?

  • We suggest a minimum thickness PVC liner of 0.5mm for most situations.
  • For extra durability, particularly where you don’t have a smooth base, you could consider 0.8mm PVC or 0.7mm EPDM liner.
  • Pond liner usually comes in packs up to 2m wide or by the lineal metre in 4m wide rolls.

How much pond liner is required?

  • To calculate the dimensions of the pond liner [and/or underlay] needed –
    • Length of wicking bed + 400mm
    • Width of wicking bed + 400mm
  • This allows 200mm up the walls all around the planter. For a wicking bed measuring 2.0m x 0.8m, equating to 5 WaterUps® cells by 2 WaterUps® cell, the dimensions of pond liner required for this wicking bed would be 2.4m x 1.2m,
    or a total of 3 sq metres.
  • If you are using a timber raised bed, we suggest you line the entire inside walls of the bed with pond liner to improve to longevity of the timber and prevent any leeching into the soil. For a wicking bed measuring 2.0m x 0.8m and 0.4m high, you would need a pond liner 2.8m x 1.6m, or a total of 4.5 sq metres.
  • Note – you may have to purchase more depending on the commercially available widths.

How long should the pond liner last?

  • Most pond liners come with a 10-year guarantee.
  • To preserve the pond liner, ensure no sharp objects are allowed near the liner, eg. no digging of soil.
  • Out of the light and in constant temps, the liner and cell should last 10 to 15 plus years.

Do I need to put anything under the pond liner?

  • If you are using pond liner less than 0.7mm thick and you don’t have a smooth base to work from, we suggest that you cover the base area with Geotec fabric or pond liner underlay.

Do I always need to use pond liner in my wicking bed?

  • Pond liner is used to create the waterproof water catchment area of your wicking bed.
  • If you are retro-fitting WaterUps® to an existing planter tub or large pot you may not need pond liner. The alternative would be to plug up the drainage hole at the base with a suitable material and then paint the internal walls of the planter with a waterproof sealer. You will probably need 3 coats.
  • Pond liner is usually much quicker to install, however, may prove to be more expensive.

GeoTextile Fabric FAQs

What is GeoTec?

  • GeoTec or GeoTextiles are permeable fabrics which, when used in association with soil and potting mix, have the ability to separate, filter, reinforce, protect, or drain. Typically made from polypropylene or polyester, GeoTextile fabrics come in three basic forms: woven (resembling mail bag sacking); needle punched (resembling felt); or heat bonded (resembling ironed felt).

Do I always need GeoTec in my wicking bed?

  • If you are adding WaterUps® wicking cells to a purpose built raised bed you will not require any GeoTec fabric provided there are no gaps around the perimeter of the cells larger than 5mm.

How much GeoTec fabric is required?

  • In addition to any GeoTec fabric used as an underlay to the pond liner, you may need to put GeoTec fabric around the internal sides of your wicking bed covering the internal walls and overlapping the top of the WaterUps® cells by approximately 100mm. This is to ensure that soil does not get into the water reservoir below. Please refer to the Installation video here or download the installation guide from the “Guides” section of this website.
  • The GeoTec fabric should be placed on top of the WaterUps® cells, 50mm in from the edge and be anchored in place using the WaterUps® Joiners.
  • We generally recommend a 100mm width of the GeoTec fabric. This allows you cover 50mm up the wall.
  • Given that GeoTec is inexpensive you may choose to run the GeoTec all the way to the top of you soil.

Soil and Potting Mix FAQs

Do I need to add anything to the soil / potting mix to help the wicking process?

  • In our experience using a good friable soil / potting mix in the “wicks”, which are the 4 feet at the base of each cell, works effectively. This would typically be the same mix as you use in the rest of your bed.
  • There is a view amongst some soil scientists that adding Perlite to the “wicks” improves airflow through the soil and, therefore, enhances “wickability”.

How much soil mix is needed for my wicking bed?

  • For optimal “wickability” the soil depth should be approximately 300mm to 350mm. However, this can vary depending on what you are growing. The depth of the root system of the plant that you are putting in your wicking bed is relevant together with whether the plant grows better in moist or dry soil. For example:-
    • 20cm soil depth for Herbs, lettuce and seedlings;
    • 35cm soil depth for woody perennials, deeper rooting vegetables and ornamentals; and
    • 50cm soil depth for citrus and stone fruits.
  • While you can expect that the potting mix will compact slightly after initial installation, this will be more than offset by the volume of the soil/root base of the plants used in the bed.
  • If we assume a soil depth of 35cm then the amount of potting mix that we will need is:-
    • 2.0m (length of bed) x 0.8m (width bed) x 0.35m (the depth of soil); and
    • 0.5 cubic metres of potting mix would be required.

Should I use bagged potting mix or bulk supply in my wicking bed?

  • It’s common to find that bulk supply soil mix is generally more economical in cost compared to bagged soil mix of equivalent quality.
  • For example, 0.75 cubic metres of bulk soil mix would generally cost around $60 compared to the cost of say 30 x 25 litre bags of soil/potting mix @ say $10 per bag, or $300. Note: these are indicative prices only – check with you own local supplier for exact prices.

What mix do I use in my wicking bed?

The optimal mix will depend on the type of plants to be grown, eg. veggies or ornamentals.

Vegetable Bed Mix – The optimal veggie bed mix should contain approximately:

  • 70% Greenlife soil with dolomite and complete fertilisers or Composted pine barks;
  • 20% Coarse sand and ash; and
  • 10% Cow manure.

Ornamental Bed Mix – The optimal ornamental bed mix should contain a combination of the following:

  • Composted pine bark;
  • Coarse sand;
  • Composted sawdust;
  • Ash;
  • Coco peat; and
  • Fertilizers.

It is not essential that all of the above are present. However, a potting mix that is friable [ie. easily crumbled] and contains the majority of these ingredients will work well.

Should I add fertilizer to the soil mix in my wicking bed?

  • The mix will benefit by having the top 100mm of soil/potting mix include composted manures or similar.
  • The addition of compost, worm castings and slow release Organic fertilisers are all beneficial.

Can I use soil from my garden in my wicking bed?

  • We do not recommend using soil from your garden as it is not likely to contain the volume of organic matter and compost that you will require and the soil mix is the vital ingredient in growing healthy plants.

Would adding a worm farm be beneficial to the operation of my wicking bed?

  • A worm tower is a great ‘add on’ as it will help maintain the soil nutrition.

Watering FAQs

How often will I need to water my wicking bed?

  • This will depend on what you are growing, the time of year and the amount of natural rainfall that you experience. However, in our experience periods of up to 5 weeks even in summer are achievable before you will need to refill your wicking bed.

How can I tell what the water level is in my wicking bed?

  • The water level can be checked with a dipstick (such as a small bamboo garden stake or similar) placed in to the inlet pipe.
  • It’s recommended that you fill the wicking bed (until it begins to overflow) around once a month. If you are about to go away for an extended period It’s also recommended to top up the water just prior to leaving.