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How to Build a Hydroponic Growing System

Looking to build a hydroponic growing system? Well, you’ve found the right guide to building your own system right in your home without spending extra. In your hydroponic garden, you can grow just about anything without soil indoors or outdoors.

In addition, growing a home-based hydroponics system won’t incur much costs, especially if you do it right. Following the steps below, you should be able to get things done with ease.

How to Build a DWC Hydroponic System at Home

how to build hydroponic growing system


  • Storage container or bucket
  • Net pots
  • Air pump with air stone attached
  • Nutrients
  • pH Down
  • pH meter
  • Measuring beaker
  • Pipettes
  • Drill


1. Get a growing container for the system

Deeper storage containers and buckets tend to work best for DWC systems as the deeper the reservoir of water, the better the stability of the nutrient solution. Nutrient concentration and pH tend to fluctuate in smaller reservoirs, so you should get one deep enough.

When choosing a container, go for one that light does not penetrate through. This reduces the risk of algae growing in the water. Go for an opaque storage container that is deeper

2. Drill holes into the container’s lid

Net pots are needed for the plants to grow. These pots feature lots of holes for the roots to grow through. You will have to also drill net pot-sized holes into the lid of the container where the net pots will be placed. Ensure that you use a specialist tool for the drilling process. You should also ensure that the size of net pots must be larger than the hole you drill so they don’t fall through.

When drilling the holes, you will need to take note of the spacing. Depending on the size of your container, you should drill holes 15cm or more apart to accommodate the size of the mature plants.

3. Assemble your air pump

The air pump sits outside of the reservoir. It also features a check valve. The function of this feature is to ensure that the pump does not suck water back up when turned off. If yours does not have a check valve, you can prevent this from happening by keeping the pumping above the water level.

Using a length of tubing, connect the air stone and check valve, and ensure the arrow on the check valve will face the air stone. After that, connect the check valve to the air pump.

4. Fill the container, add nutrients and check the pH

Before you fill the container, decide where you want to put it as the system can be quite heavy when full, Ensure you fill it almost full with water with only 1-2cm of space left at the top.

Add your hydroponic nutrients to the water. Before doing so, read the instructions on your bottle and follow them accordingly. This should tell you how much nutrients to add per liter of water.

After that, you need to adjust the pH of the water. You will need to use your pH meter for this. Use the pH meter to measure the pH which should be anywhere from 6.5-7.5 pH. Keep in mind that most vegetables and herbs require a slightly acidic nutrient solution to grow.

If you want to bring down the pH, add a few drops of phosphoric acid using a pipette or pH Down tool. Ensure you use protective gloves for this operation and mix the solution well after the application.

You can bring the pH down to 5.5-6.5 with drops of phosphoric acid using a pipette (commercially sold as ‘pH Down’ for hydroponic use). Wear gloves when handling pH down and remember to mix the solution well after application.

5. Put the system together

Assemble the system by plugging the air pump and placing the air stone in the reservoir. Place the lid on top to complete the setup.

Now, you will need to add the plants. There are many ways to add plants to the net pots. You could use some plants grown in rock wool plugs into the net pots. or use seedlings grown in soil. Rockwool plugs or hydroton clay pellets tend to be a better option as they are cleaner to use.

What is the best hydroponic system for beginners?

There are several hydroponic systems to go for. Below are the most common systems

  • The wick system: A pump delivers the nutrient solution from the reservoir up the growing tray. The plant roots get the nutrients via the capillary movement of the wick.
  • Deep Water Culture (DWC) System: The plants are placed in a net pot which is held by a floating platform that sits above a container of nutrients and water. The suspended plant roots are stretched into the nutrient-rich oxygenated solution
  • Ebb and Flow System (Flood and Drain): As the name implies, the system floods the nutrient solution onto the grow tray which surrounds plant roots before being drained back. This is usually automated by a timer
  • Nutrient Film Technique (N.F.T): The NFT system doesn’t require a timer, instead a pump continuously forces the nutrient solution onto the grow tray, flowing over plants. This is then drained back to the reservoir through a downward channel.
  • Drip System: In the drip system, the nutrient solution is pumped through the tube and drops onto plant roots via a network of drip lines. A timer oversees the action.

For beginners, the best option to get started with is Deep Water Culture (DWC). Deep Water Culture is the easiest type of hydroponic system for home growers. In this system, the plants’ roots are submerged directly in nutrient-rich water. This can be constructed by growing in large opaque storage containers or buckets. For Commercial growers, the best option is to use rafts that float on a large bed of water.

DWC systems are simple and cheap to build as the water does not re-circulate. The water remains sitting in the reservoir for the entire growing season. However, you would have to aerate the water to replenish oxygen for the plant’s roots.

Air pore spaces in the soil provide oxygen for the roots when planted in the soil. In the DWC system, an air pump with an air stone attached is used to ensure there is oxygen in the water.

What Plants Can I Grow in My DWC System?

You can grow just about any plant or crop in the DWC system. For beginners, the best crop to get started with would be Chard, Bok Choy, Basil, Lettuce, Kale, or Parsley. These plants don’t have to grow tall so they won’t need much support as they grow.