WaterUps® Cells FAQs

What are the WaterUps® cells made from?

  • The polypropylene PP 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® Wicking Bed a much longer watering time. This means you don’t have to fill your WaterUps® Wicking Bed as often.

Tools, etc FAQs

What tools may be needed to install my WaterUps® 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 or 24mm Hole Saw or Speed Bore – to drill the hole for the overflow pipe;
  • Jigsaw or Hand Saw – 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 WaterUps® Wicking Bed?

  • We strongly recommend that you use food grade pond liner if growing edibles.
  • 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 WaterUps® 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 bed would be 2.4m x 1.2m.
  • If you are using a raised timber 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.
  • 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 WaterUps® Wicking Bed?

  • Pond liner is used to create the waterproof water catchment area of your WaterUps® 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 WaterUps® Wicking Bed?

  • If you are adding WaterUps® wicking cells to a purpose built raised bed you may not require any GeoTec fabric provided:
    • there are no gaps around the perimeter of the cells larger than 5mm, and
    • you are only growing shallow rooting plants.

How much GeoTec fabric is required?

  • You may choose to use GeoTec as an underlay to the pond liner to protect it.
  • If you are only planting shallow rooting plants, but have slight gaps around the the internal perimeter of your bed where the cells abut the walls, then you may need to add a strip of GeoTec to this area. Cut a strip approx 100mm wide and cover where the internal walls overlap the top of the WaterUps®. This will ensure that soil does not get into the water reservoir below. Please refer to the WaterUps® Installation Basics video or download the WaterUps® Installation Guide which you can find on the “Information Guides” page of this website.
  • If you are planting deeper rooting plants and/or want protect the water reservoir fromany potential root penetration, then we suggest that you add a layer of GeoTec over the top of the entire cell base. If you do this check that the Perlite mix in the wicks is compacted before adding the GeoTec.

Soil and Potting Mix FAQs

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

  • We recommend that you fill each of the wicks, which are the 4 feet at the base of each cell, with Perlite. If you have a large bed, and want to save a bit of money, a 50/50 mix of Perlite and potting mix will work well. The addition of Perlite to the wicks will improve the wicking process.

Can I use Vermiculite instead of Perlite?

  • We do not recommend using Vermiculite in the wicks. While both minerals are widely used to improve the soil structure, Perlite helps by creating air pockets to improve capillary action/wicking and the growth of a healthy root system. Vermiculite is used more for water retention as it can hold many times its own weight in water. Perlite is hard and highly porous, while Vermiculite is soft and spongy. Vermiculite may be useful towards the top of your soil to help moisture retention.

How much soil mix is needed for my WaterUps® 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 WaterUps® 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 WaterUps® 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 WaterUps® Wicking Bed?

Please refer to the Soil Considerations Guide which you can find on the “Information Guides” page of this website.

Should I add fertilizer to the soil mix in my WaterUps® 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 WaterUps® 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 WaterUps® Wicking Bed?

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

Need more information?

For more information please refer to the Soil Considerations Guide which you can find on the “Information Guides” page of this website.

Watering FAQs

How do I water my WaterUps® Wicking Bed?

  • To water your WaterUps® Wicking Bed simply insert the hose into the inlet pipe and fill until water starts flowing out of the overflow pipe.
  • Note – After planting your seedlings it is important that you add a layer of mulch to the top of your WaterUps® Wicking Bed, and that you water the bed normally (ie: that you spray water onto the top of your WaterUps® Wicking Bed using a hose or watering can) for the first couple of days after planting while the roots of the seedlings become established.

How often will I need to refill the reservoir of my WaterUps® Wicking Bed with water?

  • This will depend on what plants you are growing, the time of year, and the amount of natural rainfall that you experience. However, in our experience periods of up to 4 weeks even in summer are achievable before you will need to refill your WaterUps® Wicking Bed.

How can I tell what the water level is in the reservoir of my WaterUps® 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 reservoir of your WaterUps® 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.

How often should I check the water level in the reservoir of my WaterUps® Wicking Bed?

  • We recommend that you check the water reservoir of your WaterUps® Wicking Bed weekly to get a general idea for the rate of water consumption. This will vary depending on what plants you are growing and on the prevailing weather conditions.

Should I ever water the top of my WaterUps® Wicking Bed with a hose or watering can?

  • While we say, as a general rule, that you should only do this in the first few days after planting your seedlings, there may be times when your plants are suffering climatic stress when this may also be appropriate. During extended periods of high temperatures (of above 35ºC, for example), or when the leaves or your plants or seedlings are showing signs that they are suffering heat stress, it may beneficial to water the top of your WaterUps® Wicking Bed occasionally with a hose or watering can.