How to Create a Wicking Garden From Tyres

Sue Findlay
by Sue Findlay
5 Materials
Living in Perth means that we have very poor, sandy soil and the summers are very harsh. Some of my less water-wise or established plants don't survive the heat and dryness. I have been experimenting with all kinds of raised beds and waterwise garden options to see if I could still have a lush garden throughout the year without having to use a lot of water from the tap.
I did some research and found a lot of information about wicking gardens, so I decided to make some of my own. My car needed new tyres, so I asked the tyre place to give me my old tyres back and I would take them home and use them.
I cut the black liner into a circle much larger than the tire. and placed it into the tyre.
Then I filled the bottom tyre with the wood, and placed the PVC pipe in so it reached to the bottom.
I put the rags on top, to create a barrier between the soil and the wicking well.

At this point, I moved the whole thing into position.
The final stage was to put the other tyre on top, and fill it up with compost and nice organic soil, and put my plant into it. I filled the well with water by putting the hose into the PVC pipe. Any surplus water should spill out the top of the bottom tyre. I wedged it open a bit with a thick stick to let that happen.

A piece of bamboo or other long stick poked in the PVC pipe will work as a fill meter, to see how much water is in the reservoir. No point topping up the water well if it is not necessary.
As you can see from the photo above, my Pepino plant is thriving in its environment
This is my most successful pepino ever. I have used the same tyre wicking garden for dwarf fruit trees and blueberries. You can use it for anything shallow rooting.
Suggested materials:
  • 2 Tyres   (When I got new tyres)
  • Black Liner   (Hardware store)
  • Wood - can use anything chunky and organic   (Lying around the garden)
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Sue Findlay
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
  3 questions
  • Danielle Danielle on Sep 27, 2016
    I've never heard of wicking so this might sound like a stupid question, but what is the wood for? I understand the rags, they'll wick the water from the tyre to the soil, but is the wood just filler to support the rags and soil?
  • Nancy Tonella Nancy Tonella on Sep 27, 2016
    I love this idea but am concerned with the chemicals from the tires leeching into the food/soil you are planting /eating ?
  • Jean Jean on Sep 27, 2016
    Would the tires be toxic..? But I am putting flowers in mine.just wondering.
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2 of 45 comments
  • Sue Findlay Sue Findlay on Jul 06, 2019

    Good idea Peter. These tyres are lined with pond plastic to hold the water but a bowl will also work!

  • Peter Peter on Jul 07, 2019

    Thanks,yes,iv been growing some rhizomes (ginger,galangal tumeric etc) in wicky beds or self watering pots,with some success and I'm inspired to enlarge the thing,with the tyre reversed on top,with a hole dug,lined with poly.I'm liking your idea of wood but using bits of hardwood (mill offcuts on their side) with drooping weed mat a bit ,down into the water filled with soil mix to act as wicking without I'm arguing with myself about the temperature of the water bath with these hot climate plants.because the roots grow into it..above or below ground.Thanks for the inspiration,have a bit back.thanks peter