Anyone Have a Homemade Vertical Hydro System?

lurchbiotchDecember 14, 2007

Someone surely has something they have created right?

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I have made a couple attempts, but sadly no pictures. The pump I was using for the first try was insuficient to provide the head needed and the idea was scrapped. The second was more a "proof of concept" than an actual valid design.

My first vertical system consisted of 5 vertical 4" PVC pipes with mist nozzles in the top of each column. The idea was that pieces of 3/4" or 1" PVC about 2" long could be inserted into holes in the sides of the columns at a 45* upward angle so that the water from the sprayer at the top would not drip out of the holes. It was very top heavy, lacked a sufficient pump, and I believe the "sunny side" would have grown well and the "dark side" would not have. Also there was nothing for roots to grip so I believe the plants would have eventually pulled themselves out of the system as the tops grew faster than the roots.

My next attempt was made when I built a wooden "bookshelf" for lack of a better term. the shelves were 1x6 lumber, about 12" wide, with 2x4's holding them up. I drilled two 3.5" holes in each shelf and inserted a solo cup with holes in the bottom. the bottom shelf was raised to allow a resivoir with similar holes to be placed below it. The idea was- pump nutrients to the top and allow them to rain down from one cup to the next. there are so many obvious flaws that the system was never even filled with growing media or plants, mostly I just wanted to see if it could be done.

As for other growers using vertical culture:

I believe some strawberry growers use a system that looks like stacks of square buckets with each bucket turned 45* from the one below it so the corners stick out and provide a planting space. No idea what medium they use or if the buckets can be rotated? These might be drain-to-waste, i'm not sure?

Also, I believe Hydro-Ron of has done some experaments with top drip systems using his 2L bottle technique and a common vertical drain. I'm still not sold on the idea as i think to grow crops of any size would require more structural support than "arms" made of 1" PVC can provide. Using top-drip seems like the easiest technique.

Some Aeroponic gardens are vertical or semi-vertical as well because the leaf crops can be angled toward the sun.

I hope this helps.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2007 at 11:22AM
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greystoke(South Africa(11))

Thanks for this post sdrawkcab.

I have been waiting for a reply to this topic myself. I'm starting a strawberry set-up, and was considering a vertical contruction because of space problems. However, I'm one of those chaps who's DIY jobs take 3x as long and cost 3x as much as expected. So, I've learned to do my homework first.
What you are telling me is that I should try things out first before embarking on a final set-up.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2007 at 1:25AM
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The best tips I can give would be:

 Make sure the pump you are using has sufficient head to push water all the way to the top of the system.

 Remember that plants need light and when you stack them the upper plants may begin to shade the lower plants.

 The only crops I've seen grown vertical are small, low growing crops such as strawberries, lettuce, herbs, and maybe the occasional ornamentals like petunias.

 Remember that the weight of plants, media, water, etc. will make the "towers" very top heavy so proper support is a must!

Some pictures of vertical hydroponics can be found @ This is very similar to my "proof of concept" only mine was 3'x1.5' and theirs is probably 6'x8' This is one of Hydro-Ron's vertical gardens as I mentioned in my first posting. Some great pictures! Again, this is almost identical to my second vertical hydro attempt.

White side down; green side up,

    Bookmark   December 27, 2007 at 9:17AM
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greystoke(South Africa(11))

Thanks for the info. This will help.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2007 at 10:19AM
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The January/February 2006 issue of The Growing Edge Magazine has an article in it called Build Your Own Hydroponic Tree. It is a 14 plant vertical system built from PVC pipe from the home improvement store. You can buy back issues of there magazine from there web site. I have not tried to build this system yet I have to many other projects I am working on. So many projects so little time.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2007 at 11:18PM
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I saw a pretty cool looking Vertical Aquaponics system on the Backyardaquaponics form. Saddy I don't have the thread bookmarked. The guy built the frame out of lumber to hold the pvc tubes over his fish tank and has valves above each tube. He used a wooden wedge and heat gun to shape the holes in the pvc to help hold the media without it falling out (kinda like one might make a bird feeder so the seeds won't fall out.)
He filled the tubes with gravel and had some success with herbs and lettuce I think. Pretty heavy when full of wet gravel. Perhaps something light like large size perlite would make it easier.

Here is a link that might be useful: TCLynx Hydroponics

    Bookmark   December 31, 2007 at 12:18PM
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For small plants, we are planning on using the GrowWall : a modular vertical hydroponics system that seem complete and functional.

We are planning on using it indoor, to create a green wall in our solarium. The website states that it can be used indoor or outdoor. They present their product as "industrial / educational vertical hydroponics culture system". Anyone has used it in house in a small setup (about 12 feets width and 8 feets high)? If we proceed, I will try to post pictures but in the mean time, we are more looking for stories or comments about this product.

What do you think? Would you recommend another product / method?

Here is a link that might be useful: GrowWall Modular Vertical Hydroponics Culture System

    Bookmark   March 18, 2008 at 3:28PM
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sdrawkcab..Seems like you are on the right path. As you said always do your homework before you start. These guys have given me great tips and good heads up on some of the things you will encounter. There are plenty of sites to go to where you can check out different vertical setups. Go to a site call "charlielittle" pointed the way on that. The guy that runs this site is lighyears ahead of most everybody here. U can look at the way he does things around his place. Just remember when taking on something difficult like you said "Do your homework" When you think you have it right, step back and think where does this have potential for failure never leave ur "blackboard"

    Bookmark   March 20, 2008 at 9:56AM
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alot of guys are talking about the same thing on

Here is a link that might be useful: Vertical Growing Website

    Bookmark   April 14, 2010 at 11:53PM
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Here's my Waterfall Stand. It runs on pumped air not water.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2010 at 8:25PM
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hi georgii, is this the Hydro Tower that you were talking on the other thread? honestly, i really find the invention very clever and interesting -- using pumped air not water...but if I may ask, why do you call it Hydro Tower? is it like aeroponics?

    Bookmark   May 10, 2010 at 4:55AM
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Hi, I Want to know the weight of Hydrostacker system(for Transport it to my home in another city)

    Bookmark   October 8, 2011 at 12:14PM
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I made one very similar to hydrostacker and have been using for two years now growing strawberries and am going to try spinach soon.

I used the 3 gallon square 10" maxi pots.... They are square but have the corners flattened, so they actually have 8 sides, in addition there are holes in the bottoms. These are the only pots I found that would slip inside each other while rotated 45 degrees, but there may be others.

I drilled a hole in the bottom of each bucket and used a piece of 3/4" schedule 40 that runs vertically through each bucket to keep the stack together. I only put 4 in my stack, but more would work, just need to support from top so it does not tip.
The bottom square pot sat inside a 3 1/2 Gallon round bucket (5 was to tall). Cut a square hole in the round bucket lid for the bottom square bucket to slip in, to keep out light and keep the stack from shifting.
The round bucket at the bottom was fitted with a drain which returns to the reservoir.
I setup poly drip tubes to each plant site for better watering...I started with just watering at the top bucket and middle bucket and letting the water drain down, but had better luck with each site getting a drip tube.

Last year I grew in a 50/50 mix of rockwool/grodan croutons and hydroton clay balls and this year switched to straight perlite and is working great.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2011 at 10:48AM
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Here is a newer Vertical Hydroponic/Aquaponic System
Called Zipgrow towers.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2011 at 12:24PM
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I have gotten a lot of help from this forum related to Homemade Vertical Hydro System.

Thanks for Sharing with us.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2011 at 4:05AM
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Great question, as I've been considering a vertical hydroponics platform myself, as in maximizing sun exposure and potential plant density vs. available floor area.

I've not done this myself yet, but I have seen what others have done along these lines, and actually saw a commercial home vertical hydro growing system a few months ago at the Maximum Yield Hydroponics trade show event in SF a few months ago.

I would suggest looking into recirculating water fountain pumps (no kidding), which actually are designed for this exact purpose.

A basic water pump, like the one I saw there, could likely be found at Grainger, or a similar vendor. Grainger carries 100s of thousands of all sorts of industrial, commercial, & contractor hardware items. They have an extensive website worth looking into.

The vertical system I saw at the trade show was using interchangeable modules lined with some sort of coconut fiber mesh. These modules were inserted into a vertical stand, with the water being pumped through tubing which dripped down over them. On the bottom was a tray which captured the run-off water, which was continuously recirculated through the system.

I hope this helps a bit. If you do go through with constructing & testing vertical hydro setups, I would be interested to see what you come up with.

good luck . . .

    Bookmark   October 30, 2011 at 3:29AM
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I prefer to use fountain and pond pumps myself.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2011 at 3:39AM
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