How To Build A Wicking Garden Bed using an IBC / Tote

I’ve been wanting to build a wicking bed for some time now but the high cost of waterproof membranes / pond liners always put me off. IBC’s (Intermediate Bulk Carriers) / IBC Tote / Pallet tanks are white plastic cubes used to transport liquids. Quite often they are a one use item only, especially in the food industry. They are often snatched up and re-used in agriculture as stock feed and water tanks. They hold a 1000 litres and are of a solid construction meaning they would be ideal as an alternative to buying pond liner.

IBC-Intermediate Bulk Carrier


Make sure you ring and verify what the IBC previously held. You don’t want anything that’ll take ages to clean out and you especially do not want anything with toxic chemicals in it.
I rang the seller to check what was previously in it and was told detergent, so I bought two for $60 each. Once they’re cut in two it’s basically a 2.4m x 1m garden bed for $60-
Also check that the IBC has a good screw cap on the top lid and on the tap at the bottom.

Dismantling the IBCs is super easy. You could get them cut to size in a day especially if you have someone assisting. I did both of mine on my own so it took a little longer.


STEP 1: Remove the two locking bars using a T40 Torx head screwdriver. (In a pinch, if your screws aren’t tight you might be able to get away with using an Allen Key that fits)



(Torx Screwdriver heads)


STEP 2: Flip IBC onto it’s side and slide the plastic cube out of it’s cage.

STEP 3: Place IBC right way up on level ground measure halfway up the cube. Draw a line around the cube.


STEP 4: Drill out few small holes along the line close together to allow access for your jigsaw blade. Cut the IBC in half.

STEP 5: Place base half back into cage and mark out where to cut the metal tubing. Use grinder to cut the cage.

STEP 6: Seal up the screw lid and bottom valve with silicon and tighten.

That’s it!
You’re now ready to do your overflow and optional(but recommended) reservoir and begin filling with media.

I forgot to video the process but I did a reenactment that is as good as the real thing so you have a visual idea of what to do.




In comparison, an equivalent 600mm high wicking bed made with pine sleepers and pond liner from Bunnings to get to this stage would cost
9 x sleepers $106.20
Pond liner 4m x 3m $90 OR Builders plastic 200um 4m x50m $99-
Fixings (Gal coach screws or bugle head screws) $25-60

The upside of the sleepers is they will automatically look nice externally. You’ll want to cover the plastic IBC beds with a shroud of some type just for aesthetics. I plan on using recycled timber.


The next stage is filling the beds with media!