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bentonite clay lined raised wicking beds?

Posts: 1566
Location: Denver, CO
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I'm thinking about building earth bag raised beds with a bentonite liner inside for a wicking bed. I know they will very slowly leak, but I'm not worried about that. Will they hold up well enough? Or do you think they will just turn into a muddy mess? The earth bags would be on a gravel foundation and be lime plastered outside every year. I'm in a dry climate.

I'd just rather not put a sheet of plastic in the ground that will eventually get a hole in it.

Also, what about adding hardware cloth to the above to keep critters from tunneling in?
Posts: 75
Location: Suburbs Salt Lake City, Utah 6a 24 in rain 58 in snow
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I've got no answers for you, but am very intrigued by the idea. I like the idea of wicking beds, but loathe the plastic.
Posts: 240
Location: Northern New Mexico, Zone 5b
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I haven't tried this but I use bentonite in my work frequently.
Bentonite swells with hydration to a crazy degree.  I think it could easily swell into the sand/gravel of the wicking bed over time.  I would put sheet plastic over the bentonite. It doesn't have to be water tight, just continuous enough to prevent wholesale swelling of the bentonite.  Somewhat similar to a geosynthetic clay liner (bentonite perforated plastic quilt)

I use chicken wire under the barrier to keep out gophers as you suggest.  It has worked so far. Though I don't know if any have tried to burrow through.
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