DIY HYDROPONIC SYSTEMS

Deep Water Culture DIY: 3 Extremely Easy to Build Systems

DWC-container

Deep Water Culture DIY: The Raft System

This system can be built in 2 ways. You can use styrofoam as the lid or you can use the lid that came with the storage container. There is a slight difference in the system design. If you use the styrofoam the plants will float with the styrofoam on the nutrient water and the roots will always be in the nutrient water.

 

If you use the lid the roots will be exposed to an air gap between the bottom of the net cup and the top of the nutrient water level. there are pros and cons to each solution, but the choice will depend on the plant selection. Some don’t like to be constantly in the water solution.  This system uses styrofoam.

 

Need more info? Take a step back and learn more about the system or check out some other DWC designs before you jump in to start your build.

 

 

Totes Deep Water Culture diy
Totes Deep Water Culture DIY, GrowWithoutSoil.com

 

Materials

  • Reservoir ( choose 1 of the following options)
    • Non-transparent or translucent Totes or storage container (Size will depend on what is locally available, how much room you have, and your garden plan)
    • You will always want to select a none transparent or translucent reservoir in order to limit light getting to your nutrient solution as this will cause algae growth.
    • A fish tank (Why not? This selection would make your Deep Water Culture System an Aquaponics System! Just don’t select large plants or you won’t be able to lift the styrofoam lid to service and feed the fish!
  • Net cups
    • 2″ – 3″  or 4″ (Net cup size will depend on the size of your reservoir, system, and plants)
  • Air pump (aquarium or other)
  • Air hose (Usually comes with the air pump)
  • Check valve (Comes with better quality air pumps)
  • Airstone (Comes with some air pumps. Get the biggest one your reservoir and air pump can handle)
  • 1″ thick styrofoam sheet to be used as the lid (large enough to cover the top of your reservoir)
  • Distilled or Filtered Water (preferably reverse osmosis filtered)
  • Plants
    • Fresh Plant cutting (if you are cloning a plant)
    • Seedling
    • Seeds in a net cup and starter plug (we will show you this option later)

 

Tools

  • Power drill
  • Hole saw (Match your net cup size selection)
    • 2″ lettuce, Greens, Herbs
    • 3″ Kale, Chard, larger greens
    • 4″ Larger and Vining vegetables
  • 1/4″ Drill bit  (for wood or plastic)
  • Razer or Exacto knife 

 

 

Instructions

 

Reservoir

  • Clean the selected reservoir
  • Discard lid

 

Cut

  • Measure and cut the styrofoam so that it fits just inside the rim of your reservoir. ( Al little smaller is ok as it will rise and fall with the level of the nutrient water down into the reservoir)
  • Layout and Mark Hole locations
  • Drill Holes with a hole saw (running the drill backward at slow speed will make it easier and won’t destroy your delicate styrofoam. You can use a razor knife here as well)
  • Mark and Drill a 1/4″  Hole for the air hose

Place 

  • Place the reservoir in its permanent location
  • Place your net cups into each drilled hole
  • Push the air hose through the 1/4″ hole

 

Fill

  • Fill the reservoir with filtered water (Make sure the water  level touches the bottom of the net cups when the styrofoam is placed on top of the reservoir)
  • Add nutrients
  • Check pH

 

Connect

  • Connect the air stone to the section of hose in the reservoir
  • Connect the check valve to the outside section of the air hose. (Make sure it is flowing in the correct direction- OUT goes to the airstone)
  • Connect a small cut piece of hose from the check valve to the air pump.

 

Plant

  • Put your plants into each net cup
  • Fill each cup with the medium of your choice 

 

 

Learn more 

Deep Water Culture Designs

Buy this system

Build this system

 

Install your Accessories

Set up your system

 

 

 

 

Deep Water Culture DIY: The Container With Lid System

This is the same system as above with one minor modification, we use the original container lid instead of styrofoam.

Totes with Lid -Deep-Water-Culture
Totes with Lid -Deep-Water-Culture, GrowWithoutSoil.com

 

Materials

  • Same as the Raft System but keep the lid

 

 

Tools

  • Same as the Raft System

 

 

Instructions

 

Reservoir

  • Clean the selected reservoir and lid

 

Cut

  • Layout and Mark Hole locations on the lid
  • Drill Holes with the hole saw in the lid (running the drill backward at slow speed will make it easier and won’t destroy your lid. You can use a razor knife here as well)
  • Mark and Drill a 1/4″  Hole for the air hose

Place 

  • Place the reservoir in its permanent location
  • Place your net cups into each drilled hole
  • Push the air hose through the 1/4″ hole

 

Fill

  • Fill the reservoir with filtered water (Make sure the water  level touches the bottom of the net cups when the styrofoam is placed on top of the reservoir)
  • Add nutrients
  • Check pH

 

Connect

  • Connect the air stone to the section of hose in the reservoir
  • Connect the check valve to the outside section of the air hose. (Make sure it is flowing in the correct direction- OUT goes to the airstone)
  • Connect a small cut piece of hose from the check valve to the air pump.

 

Plant

  • Put your plants into each net cup
  • Fill each cup with the medium of your choice 

 

 

Learn more 

Deep Water Culture Designs

Buy this system

Build this system

 

Install your Accessories

Set up your system

 

 

 

Deep Water Culture (DWC) Bucket System

The bucket system uses the same principles as above but uses a 5 Gallon bucket with a lid instead of a Totes container. This system will usually hold one larger plant. However, we have seen some growers drill 7- 2″ holes for smaller net cups with smaller plants. 

DWC Bucket System Build
DWC Bucket System Build, Source

 

Materials

  • Reservoir
    • 5 Gallon Bucket
  • Net cups
    • 2″ – 3″ – 4″- 6″ or 8″ (This will depend on the size of your system and plants)
  • Air pump (aquarium or other)
  • Air hose (Usually comes with the air pump)
  • Check valve (Comes with better quality air pumps)
  • Airstone (Comes with some air pumps. Get the biggest one your reservoir and air pump can handle)
  • Distilled or Filtered Water (preferably reverse osmosis filtered)
  • Plants
    • Fresh Plant cutting (if you are cloning a plant)
    • Seedling
    • Seeds in a net cup and starter plug (we will show you this option later)

 

Tools

  • Power drill
  • Hole saw (Match your net cup size selection)
  • 1/4″ Drill bit  (for wood or plastic)

 

 

Instructions

 

Reservoir

  • Clean and Place the selected Bucket with a lid

 

Cut

  • Layout and Mark Hole location on the lid
  • Drill Holes in the lid (running the drill backward at slow speed will make it easier and won’t destroy your lid. You can use a razor knife here as well)
  • Mark and Drill a 1/4″  Hole for the air hose

Place 

  • Place the reservoir in its permanent location
  • Place your net cups into the drilled hole
  • Push the air hose through the 1/4″ hole

 

Fill

  • Fill the reservoir with filtered water (Make sure the water  level touches the bottom of the net cups when the styrofoam is placed on top of the reservoir)
  • Add nutrients
  • Check pH

 

Connect

  • Connect the air stone to the section of hose in the reservoir
  • Connect the check valve to the outside section of the air hose. (Make sure it is flowing in the correct direction- OUT goes to the airstone)
  • Connect a small cut piece of hose from the check valve to the air pump.

 

Plant

  • Put your plant into the net cup
  • Fill each cup with the medium of your choice 

 

 

Learn more 

Deep Water Culture Designs

Buy this system

Build this system

 

Install your Accessories

Set up your system

 

 

 

DWC With Optional Recirculating System

The recirculating DWC System is a hybrid option of the systems above. We added a recirculating nutrient top irrigation drip system with a timer much like the Dutch Bucket Design uses to flush the roots thoroughly with nutrient water.

 

This system build uses a larger 1″ PVC pipe as the main nutrient water supply line so that you have the option to extend it later if you expand the system. You can alternatively use a 1/4″ water hose for the whole supply line with a connecter. This is a little easier.

 

We will explain as you get into the instructions. It is important that all your hoses are opaque, not clear 

Totes-with-Lid--Recirculate Deep-Water-Culture
Totes-with-Lid Recirculate Deep-Water-Culture, GrowWithoutSoil.com

 

Materials

  • Same as one of the chosen Systems above but add the following
  • Small Submersible Water pump (aquarium or other)
  • 2′ piece of Garden Hose
  • 1 – 3/4″ PVC schedule 40 Garden hose fitting
  • 2- 1″ PVC schedule 40 caps
  • 1 – 1″ x 3′ length of schedule 40 PVC pipe
  • 2 – 1″ 90-degree schedule 40 fittings
  • 12 – 1/4″  hose to PVC pipe  (These fittings get glued into the holes drilled into the PVC pipe. The 1/4″ hose press fits on the other end)
  • 12′ of 1/4″ Hose
  • 12- 1/4″ Drip  or spray fittings

 

1/4″ pipe alternative for the entire supply line

  • Adapter to connect your 1/4″ supply hose to your submersible pump (This will depend on the exact hose and pump you purchase)
  • 18 ‘ of 1/4″ Hose
  • 12 – 1/4″ “T” hose connectors 
  • 1 – 1/4″ 90 degree hose connector
  • 12- 1/4″ Drip  or spray fittings

 

 

Tools

  • Same as one of the chosen Systems above

 

 

Instructions

  • Same as one of the chosen Systems above but add the following

 

Recirculating Nutrient Water System

More difficult but allows for expansion of your system later.

  • Layout and Mark the hole you will drill for the main supply hose that will connect from the submersible pump inside the reservoir to the nutrient water supply line (This hole location can be toward the top side or through a corner of the lid, The size of the hole will be a little larger in diameter than your hose selection. Drill 1″ hole for a garden hose and 3/8″ for a 1/4″ hose)
  • Drill the Hole (running the drill backward at slow speed will make it easier and won’t destroy your lid. You can use a razor knife here as well)
  • You may need to use an adapter piece to connect your hose to the submersible pump here
  • Connect a 3′ section of hose from the pump through the hole in the reservoir
  • Glue the 3/4″ PVC schedule 40 Garden hose fitting to either directly to the 3″ section of PVC pipe or use the 2- 90-degree schedule 40 fittings as shown to make the return angle. ( See instructions to use 1/4″ hose option below)
  • Mark and drill 12 evenly spaced holes in the PVC pipe to accept the 12 – 1/4″ screw-in type fittings
  • Glue the 1/4″ hose to PVC pipe  fittings
  • Cut 12 – pieces or 1/4″ hose approximately 12″ long 
  • Press fit the 1/4″ pieces onto each of the 12 fittings
  • Run each hose out to one of the net cup locations
  • Trim each hose as required leaving a little extra hose
  • Press fit the 1/4″ Drip  or spray fittings on to the end of each hose

 

1/4″ pipe alternative for the entire supply line

Much easier, but does not allow for as much expansion of your system later

  • Layout and Mark the 3/8″ hole you will drill for the 1/4″ hose.
  • Drill the Hole (running the drill backward at slow speed will make it easier and won’t destroy your lid. You can use a razor knife here as well)
  • You may need to use an adapter piece to connect your hose to the submersible pump here
  • Connect a 3′ section of hose from the pump through the hole in the reservoir
  • Connect one of the  12 – 1/4″ “T” hose connectors 
  • Cut 11 – 1″ pieces of 1/4″ hose
  • Cut 11 – 12″ pieces of 1/4″ hose
  • Press-fit one piece of 12″ hose on the”T” off a section of the T ( That’s the side that is 90 degrees from the main hose)
  • Press-fit one piece of  1″ hose on the inline section of the T ( That’s the side that will make the main hose continue in a straight line from the main hose)
  • Connect the rest of the pieces the same way
  • Connect the last 12″ piece with a 1/4″ 90-degree hose connector
  • Run each hose out to one of the net cup locations
  • Trim each hose as required leaving a little extra hose
  • Press fit the 1/4″ Drip  or spray fittings on to the end of each hose

 

 

Learn more 

Deep Water Culture Designs

Buy this system

Build this system

 

Install your Accessories

Set up your system

 

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Bobby

Bobby

HI! I'm Bobby, an entrepreneur, inventor, green builder and urban farmer. I've been a custom home builder since a kid and an avid gardener. The critters, bugs and climate outside our new home forced me to check out some new ideas in gardening. I found out about Hydroponics and have spent years learning the best techniques to build the best, most efficient, home hydroponics systems. I built one of the first ever, small scale, mobile hydroponic systems. Would you like to know how I did it?