How To Build A DWC Hydroponic System

A hydroponic system is a system in which plants are grown without soil. Instead, they are placed in a nutrient solution with their roots suspended in the solution. 

Hydroponics has been used as far back as ancient Greece and Rome, but it’s experiencing a resurgence due to its ability to grow larger yields than soil-based farming methods while using less water and space. 

The term “hydroponics” was coined by American engineer William Gericke in 1928 when he created his first growth chamber using this method of growing indoors.

How to Build a Hydroponic System Under $30
Building a DWC Hydroponic System can be simple and cost-effective.
By following the right steps, you can set up your system in no time.
To get started with a DWC hydroponic system, you need to ensure proper amperage and wattage levels.
Maintaining the pH and nutrient levels is essential for the health and growth of your plants in DWC hydroponic systems.
Avoiding root rot requires proper aeration, drainage, and maintenance of the DWC hydroponic system.

Get started with this step-by-step guide on how to build a DWC hydroponic system

A DWC hydroponic system is a type of hydroponic system that uses the Deep Water Culture (DWC) method.

It’s a simple and effective way to grow plants without soil or a medium, in which the roots hang down into the nutrient solution below.

The main components of this system include:

A container – This can be anything from an old bucket to something like a 5 gallon water bottle. Just make sure it’s large enough to hold all your parts! The larger containers usually work best because they give you more room for root growth and less chance of tipping over due to their weight load compared to smaller containers.

Rockwool cube starter plugs – You’ll need these if you’re going with seedlings instead of clones/cuttings since they provide them with extra protection from pests like fungus gnats until they’re big enough for transplanting into your grow pots where you will eventually transfer them later on once sprouted out properly (that’s why we recommend using rockwool cubes instead of regular old potting soil).

Adding nutrients to a hydroponic system can be tricky. Ensure that you are adding the right minerals in the right proportions. Read our guide on adding nutrients to your hydroponic system to learn more about the dos and don’ts when adding nutrients.

1. Build Your Reservoir

In this step, you’re going to be building your reservoir. A reservoir is the container that holds all of your nutrient solution and water for your plants. 

When choosing a container for this purpose, you want one that will not only hold enough water for your plants but also allow for adequate drainage and air circulation around the roots when feeding them with nutrient-rich water. 

There are many different kinds of materials that could be used here, however we recommend using plastic containers as they are easier to work with over time.

If you’re looking into building a dwc hydroponic system, we recommend starting out with an eight-gallon plastic storage bin or something similar since it should fit nicely on top of most grow beds without being too tall (you don’t want any excess height). 

You’ll also need some sort of lid so make sure that whatever size your container has corresponds with the size lid you pick up otherwise it may not stay securely on top!

2. Prepare Your Grow Bed or Container

First, you will need to select a container. A 10-gallon grow bed is the perfect size for this project. If you have a container that is at least 10 gallons and meets the other requirements, then it can be used as your grow bed.

Second, decide whether or not to purchase a lid for your container or build one yourself using plywood or plastic sheeting. 

If you choose to use a lid that has been pre-cut, be sure it has holes for air circulation in addition to being waterproof so that it does not fall apart and leak water into your system if it gets wet during watering cycles or inclement weather conditions such as rainstorms or snowstorms (though these would be rare occurrences depending on where you live).

Adjusting the pH level in a hydroponic system is crucial for the health of plants. If the pH is too high or low, the plants can’t absorb nutrients effectively. To learn how to maintain optimal pH levels, check out our guide on adjusting pH in a hydroponic system to learn more.

3. Install your Pumps

Once you’ve got your reservoir, pots and pump in place, it’s time to install the actual pump. This can be a little tricky depending on what sort of system you have purchased. 

For example, some systems are designed so that the pump is installed outside of the reservoir while others have it built right into the bottom of their unit.

Regardless of how your system works just make sure that:

  • You put your pumps where they won’t get wet or dusty (especially if they’re powered by electricity)
  • You test them before connecting them up to ensure they are working properly

4. Run Irrigation Lines To Each Plant Site

The next step is to get the water to each plant site. You will need to run irrigation lines from your main water supply line, which should be located near the grow bed (or where you’re going to set up your grow beds), down through each plant site. Make sure that each line has an inline timer at its end so that you can control when it runs.

This setup should make things easier for you in terms of watering since it frees up some time so that other maintenance tasks can be done while waiting for the plants’ roots to absorb nutrients from the solution. You won’t have to spend too much time watching over them as they get their fill!

One of the most common problems with DWC hydroponic systems is root rot, which can lead to plant death. Take preventative measures and learn how to avoid root rot with the help of our expert advice. Check our guide on avoiding root rot in hydroponics to learn more.

5. Install Net Pots And Lids

The net pot is the container that holds your plant in place. It’s also important to have a lid, which keeps the roots from drying out and allows for better root aeration. 

Net pots can be used with both ebb and flow hydroponics as well as drip systems, making them an excellent choice when building a dwc hydroponic system.

If you’re using clay pellets or rock wool instead of lava rock or expanded clay pebbles, you can skip this step because they won’t need additional drainage holes drilled into their bottom surfaces. 

The only exception is if your clay pellet has drainage holes already built into it already; in that case, just make sure that no rocks are blocking those holes before setting up any other parts of your system!

6. Fill Grow Bed With Hydroponic Media and Water

After you have secured your grow bed to the table and filled it with water, you can begin filling the grow bed with hydroponic media. This will set in place the base of your system where all of your plants’ roots are going to be growing. 

To do this, first fill up a watering can or bucket with water (the level should be close to that of where the hydroponic media will go). 

Then slowly pour this over top of all four sides until they are thoroughly saturated. Now that you’ve done this, let them sit for around 5 minutes so there is enough time for any air bubbles within them to rise up before draining off any excess liquid into your drain tray at least once so no water goes down there instead). 

Afterward, check each side again for leaks or holes; if one exists then use some silicone caulking (or whatever sealant type material works best) as needed on both ends until everything is sealed tight against moisture loss from exposure above ground level due to evaporation caused by high temperatures during summer months while still allowing adequate drainage during rainy periods throughout fall through spring months when rainfall amounts increase dramatically due now being towards winter season once again.”

Lowering the pH level in your hydroponic system enhances your plants’ ability to take up essential minerals. If you need to bring the pH down in your system, our guide on how to lower pH in hydroponics has got you covered. Read more to know what steps to follow to adjust your hydroponic system’s pH level.

7. Add Nutrients To The Reservoir

The following are the recommended nutrient dosing schedules for each form of growing media.

In-line Drip System: Daily or weekly, based on your preference and setup. If you use a timer to turn on the pump, this is a good choice for you.

Nutrient Film Technique Submersible Pumps: Add nutrients to your reservoir when you change to fresh water. 

You will want to keep track of how many days it has been since you last changed your water so that if it gets too long between changes, your plants may suffer from deficiency symptoms and need extra help with nutrient uptake until their root systems have recovered sufficiently from such stressors.

Ebb & Flow Hydroponic Systems: Daily or weekly depending on preference and setup (e.g., one large reservoir vs multiple smaller ones).

8. Add Plants To Each Pot And Let Them Root For A Few Days

Here you are, with your first set of plants. It’s time for them to go into their new homes!

After removing the plugs from the pots and adding your soil mix, place each plant in its designated pot. For this step I recommend using twine or fishing line to keep the stems steady as you work with them so that they don’t bend too much and break during transport.

Once all of your plants have been placed in their pots, cover each one with a little extra soil mix so that there is no exposed root structure showing above ground level (this will help keep pests away). 

Be sure not to bury any of the top growth though – keeping some part visible above ground level will let oxygen reach those roots just like it would naturally through rainfall or dew drops falling onto leaves; otherwise bacteria could start growing on them which could cause rot later down the road when watering cycles start up again!

Building your hydroponic greenhouse can be a challenging task, but it doesn’t have to be. With expert advice, you can build the best hydroponic greenhouse that meets all of your needs. Our guide on building a hydroponic greenhouse will teach you all you need to know to create the greenhouse of your dreams. Plan and execute like a pro with us.

9. Start Feeding Nutrients To Your Plants

You’ve installed your system and it’s time to start feeding nutrients to your plants. It’s easy to do, but there are some things you should know:

What nutrients should I use?

You can use any nutrient solution as long as it has at least one of these three main ingredients: Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), or Potassium (K). These elements are called macronutrients because they provide fundamental support for plant growth. 

If you don’t have them in sufficient amounts, your plants will suffer from deficiencies that affect their growth and yield. Your hydroponic store should carry a selection of nutrients with varying ratios of these macronutrients; this is helpful if you’re growing different types of plants at once or trying out new strains.

How often should I feed my plants?

Your choice here depends on how much light each particular strain requires and how quickly they grow under those conditions; check with the supplier who sold you the seeds or clones before making a decision about how often they need feeding and make sure they’re not asking too much! 

The last thing anyone wants is an overfed plant that doesn’t produce any yields because its roots are sucking up too much water instead of absorbing nutrients from its environment which brings us right back around again!

Things to Consider when Starting to Feed Nutrients to Your Plants

ConcentrationStart with a small amount and increase over time as needed. Too much nutrient early can harm the plants
pH LevelMaintain optimal pH for the nutrients to be available for the plant roots
Water QualityUse good quality, filtered water, with minimal dissolved solids or heavy metals
Fertilizer selectionChoose a fertilizer that’s right for your plant and stage of growth.
Plant VarietiesDifferent plants require different nutrients, and different stages of growth require different nutrient levels.

10. Monitor pH In The Reservoir Daily And Adjust If Needed

pH refers to the measure of how acidic or alkaline a solution is. The pH scale ranges from 0-14, with 0 being highly acidic and 14 being highly alkaline. 

A reading of 7 represents an equal balance between acidity and alkalinity; anything below 7 is considered acidic, while anything above 7 is considered basic or alkaline. Most plants prefer a pH of 5.5-6.5, which makes it important to keep this number within range if you want your plants to thrive!

It’s easy enough for hobbyists who don’t mind getting their hands dirty (or for those who have more time than money) to adjust their reservoir’s pH by adding vinegar or citric acid directly into it every day until the desired level has been reached but if you’re looking for an easier way out. 

There are also automated systems available that can automatically monitor and adjust your reservoir’s water quality without any extra effort on your part!

11. Make Sure Roots Are Exposed To Oxygen At All Times! (optional)

The root zone should be kept moist and oxygenated at all times. The easiest way to do this is to add an air stone to the bottom of your grow bed. 

If you don’t want to buy one, try using a DIY air pump or fish tank aerator instead! You can also attach an air pump directly above the roots with water flowing through it, which will aerate them sufficiently as well.

Factors to Consider for Oxygenating Roots in Hydroponics

Grow MediumChoose a grow medium that allows for oxygen flow to the roots. Coco coir or perlite work well
Air StonesAdd one or more air stones to the bottom of the hydroponic container for proper oxygenation
Water MovementUse a water pump or air blower to create a current and ensure proper water movement throughout the hydroponic system
Water LevelEnsure the water level is not too high, as this can lead to decreased oxygen levels for the roots
Root HealthCheck root health regularly and ensure they are always white or light brown (not dark brown or black) to guarantee optimal oxygen flow.

12. Adjust pH Downward Once Per Week With Vinegar Or Citric Acid (optional)

Once you’ve set your pH and have been maintaining it, you’ll want to get into a routine of checking and adjusting the pH. 

It’s recommended that you check the pH once a week, but if your system is running at a steady rate then try checking every other week instead. If it’s still new or you’re unsure, just start with weekly checks for now until

you get used to how things work.

If your pH is too high, take 1 tablespoon of vinegar or citric acid and mix it with 2 gallons of water. Add this solution slowly into one end of the reservoir (not both ends) until the desired level has been reached. 

If your system already has enough carbon dioxide in it due to photosynthesis from plants or algae growing on surfaces like grow rocks or net pots then stop adding more right away!


In this tutorial, we have covered everything you need to know about building a DWC hydroponic system. This is a great way to get started with growing your own plants at home and can be done very cheaply if you already have the materials on hand. 

If not, it might be worth checking out store prices for all of these items so that you don’t end up spending too much money on something that could easily be made at home with some PVC pipes or other household items!

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources on DWC hydroponic systems:

DIY Deep Water Culture Hydroponics: This article provides a detailed guide on how to set up a DWC hydroponic system for growing plants at home, including materials needed and step-by-step instructions.

How to Set Up a Deep Water Culture Type Hydroponic System: Discover how to assemble a deep water culture system using a simple step-by-step guide. This resource also includes pictures with each part so that you can see how everything connects.

Deep Water Culture for Plants: Get a comprehensive overview of deep water culture for plants, including a detailed description of different systems.


What is Deep Water Culture Hydroponics?

Deep Water Culture is a hydroponic system where plants grow directly in water that is rich in nutrients, usually held in a container. This highly oxygenated solution helps plants grow at an accelerated rate with many benefits over traditional methods.

What are the advantages of Deep Water Culture Hydroponics?

DWC hydroponic systems are highly efficient and use less water than traditional methods. It also requires fewer nutrients, and the plants grow faster and healthier.

How often should I change my DWC hydroponic system’s water?

Change your DWC system’s water every two weeks to avoid algae growth and stagnation that can lead to poor plant health.

What kind of plants grow best in Deep Water Culture Hydroponics?

Leafy greens, herbs, and vegetables like lettuce, basil, and peppers grow exceptionally well in DWC hydroponic systems.

Can I add fish to my DWC hydroponic system?

Yes, you can. An aquaponic system combines hydroponics with the rearing of freshwater fish to create a sustainable food production system. The waste from the fish provides nutrients for the plants, while the plants filter and recirculate the water used in the fish tank.