What Is A Dutch Bucket System And How To Build It?

Why has the Dutch bucket system been growing in popularity in recent years? Why do more and more hydroponic growers opt for this system as a must-have tool for growing plants?

Whether you are an amateur hobby grower or a commercial gardener, the Dutch bucket set up might ring a bell for you. It is one of the most straightforward hydroponic tools to take care of fruits, vegetables and can fit a wide range of growing styles.

What Is A Dutch Bucket System?

Simply put, a Dutch bucket, also known as a Bato bucket, is a popular hydroponic system for growing fruits and vegetables on a large scale. It can nurture other plants like peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes easily.

The variety of plants is considerably unlimited regarding what plants can be grown in a bucket grow system. It works perfectly for not only small decoration plants but also huge, vining trees.

For that reason, it receives adoration from both home gardeners and industrial farmers.

Despite the diversity in designs, the mechanism of any Dutch hydroponic bucket all comes down to the same structure. Specifically, there are multiple plastic containers of equal sizes standing next to each other to form a row.

Farmers will grow the plants separately in each container. The types of plants in each pot can be different, but the best way is to grow the same kind of plants in one Dutch bucket hydroponics system.

It will make the process of determining the water supply, the temperature, and the lightning more effortless. You won’t have to tailor the environment for every type of plant as you grow multiple seeds at once.

All of the planting buckets share the same lines of water supply and drainage source. Therefore, the water will spread out evenly throughout every container, giving every plant the same nutrition treatment.

Compared to other growing methods, this system sweeps the board to an evening out the water distribution and efficiently draining out the excess nutrient solutions and water. Also, it will prevent unequal disparity of nutrition for the plants.

How Does The Dutch Bucket System Work?

You can count on one hand all the equipment, tools, and building materials required for a whole building project. Essentially, the idea of a hydroponic bucket system boils down to the water distribution lines, drainage nipple, and the time setup.

There are many buckets lying side by side; the inside is filled with a growing medium. Some of them are perlite, hydroton clay pebbles, coco coir, lava rocks, etc.

The following essential link in the plant support system is the water and nutrient reservoir. It contains water that will be distributed equally to every bucket.

The farmers usually add the nutrient solution (fertilizer) that the plants need directly into the water containers, then blend them with the liquid.

It will free you from manually fertilizing the plants, which might take too much time, but the result is not promising.

An irrigation pump is attached to the water container’s bottom to send up the water from the reservoir to the bucket. The pump spans across the entire row of buckets and is accompanied by many drip hoses to emit the water drops into each bucket.

See also  10 Tips for Moving Potted Plants into Your New Home

When the water supply becomes excessive, a shared growing drainage line comes with a helping hand.

What Is A Dutch Bucket System And How To Build It?
“my garden” by lemonhalf is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

After the plants in every growing medium have fulfilled their water needs, the excess will automatically flow back into the reservoir through a drain hole at the bucket’s bottom to prepare for the next pump.

Essentially, the growing bucket system is a recirculating, repetitive mechanism. It performs the same circulation and drainage routines all the time.

Every Dutch bucket features a time set up to start the pump automatically. For that reason, a Bato system with a large-capacity reservoir can operate smoothly for weeks without regular checking from the human.

Since the growing process is well-designed and straightforward, this is, hands down, the most efficient way to grow any kind of plant without too much human labor.

Which Plants To Grow In Dutch Bucket System?

Is growing tomatoes in a bucket possible? Can you plant roses in a bucket? Yes, of course. Even though the system works well with small plants, it is beneficial when growing larger plants like tomatoes.

The irrigation line will provide sufficient nutrient solutions and water to grow normally, no matter how big the plant roots are.

One of the most common plant choices for this system is tomatoes. Be it as it may, the list continues since you can opt for other plant options.

Apart from tomatoes, you can also grow peppers, grapes, green beans, squash, or any kind of vining plant with a Dutch bucket design.

Besides ensuring the circulation and drain systems are working correctly, you should consider adding some support, such as wooden sticks for the plants. Tomatoes and squash tend to be extremely heavy on top when the harvest time is coming around.

How To Build A Dutch Bucket System?

Essential Tools And Building Materials

  • A certain number of buckets based on the determined scale ( (we use 8 in this tutorial)
  • The same number of drain fittings (we use 8 in this tutorial)
  • The same number of drip emitters (we use 8 in this tutorial)
  • The same number of rubber grommets (we use 8 in this tutorial)
  • The same number of paint strainer bags ( we use 8 bags)
  • Twice as many elbows as the number of buckets (we use 16 pieces)
  • A large-capacity reservoir (we recommend 15 to 40 gallons of water)
  • A water pump
  • 2 poly tubings (we use a piece of ½ inch and ¼ inch)
  • A piece of drain valve (we use a piece of ½ inch)
  • Some zip ties
  • Some types of clamps (we use 2 hose clamps)
  • A kind of growing medium (we use clay)
  • 3 PVC pipes (we use two 1-inch pipes, 2-inch pipe)

How To Build A Dutch Bucket System

Step 1: Set Up The Drainage Pipe

Positioning the 1-inch PVC pipe on an even surface. Then you cut out a piece of the PVC pipe of about ¾ inch to use as a drainage pipe. Remember to save the remaining length of the PVC pipe for future use.

See also  21 Best Plants Good for Asthma (Expert Recommendations)

Step 2: Position The Buckets

You start by placing each bucket side by side to create 2 rows. In our case, we separate our 8 buckets into 2 rows, each row containing 4 buckets.

Depending on the plants you plan to grow, you should leave a specific space between each container. The bigger the plant is, the longer the plant spacing should be.

The most common space for vining, climbing plants is one foot apart. Once the buckets are placed, mark the distance between each container with a dot.

Step 3: Drill The Drainage Pipe

You use a drill to drill holes based on the dots you marked on the pipe before. The recommended size of the holes is one inch for each.

Step 4: Set Up The Reservoir

Firstly, you connect the 2-inch PVC pipe with the underside of the drainpipe. Then, you set up the reservoir, as long as it stays right under the PVC pipe.

To keep the water temperature in the reservoir at a cool level, burying it into the ground might help.

Step 5: Drill The Buckets

Again, you use the drill to create 1-inch holes into the sides of the containers. The drill should be about 3 inches away from the bottom.

Step 6: Cut The PVC Pipe

Cut the other 1-inch PVC pipe into eight pieces, then smooth out both ends of the pipes to prepare for the next steps.

Step 7: Connect The Bucket Elbow With The PVC pipe

Once you have separated the PVC pipes into eight pieces, you fit 8 of them to the 8 holes on the buckets’ sides.

Then you take the 16 elbows you have prepared and connect them to both sides of the PVC pipes, as long as the elbows point downwards.

Step 8: Finish The Drainage System

Adjust the buckets’ position until the elbows on each side slide into the 1-inch holes you have drilled into the drain pipe.

If you manage to pull them all together, it means you have managed to build your drainage system.

Step 9: Fill In The Buckets’ Insides

Now when the buckets are in the fixed positions, it’s time you filled them in with the growing mediums. There are plenty of options out there that vary in the budget, characteristics, etc.

Before putting anything inside the containers, it would help to wrap a paint strainer bag around the inner surface. It will protect the growing medium from damaging the pump over time.

Step 10: Prepare The Irrigation Line

Spanning the poly tubing of ½ inch over the buckets’ top while staying above the drainpipe.

Step 11: Drill The Bucket Lid

Once again, you use the drill to create eight ½-inch holes near the top lips of the buckets. Then slide the zip ties you have prepared into each hole to position the poly tubing firmly in place.

See also  How To Get Rid Of Ants In The Garden?

Step 12: Set Up The Place For The Drip Emitter

Now when you have built up the circulation line, you create eight holes in the buckets.

This time each hole is ⅛ inch in diameter. When the holes are ready, you snug the drip lines right into the hollow places.

Step 13: Fix The Drip Emitter

In this step, you cut the ¼-inch poly tubing into eight separate parts. Then you connect one end of the poly tubing with the drip emitters.

It will ensure that the water and nutrients flow right into the plant containers when the system is working.

Step 14: Set Up The Drain Valve

You cut down ½ inch of the circulation line on the end that faces the reservoir. Then use a hose clamp to connect this cutout tube with the prepared drain valve.

The valve will clean up the system when something potentially clogs the flowing way of the water in the tube.

Step 15: Activate The Irrigation Line

To activate the drip irrigation line, attach the remaining hose clamp to the PVC pump, then throw the pump straight into the reservoir.

Step 16: Fill The Reservoir With Water

Once everything is in its place, it’s time you filled the reservoir up with water. Then you activate the submersible pump. Pay attention to how the circulation line and the drain pipe perform to see any leak.

In this video, we’ll learn how to build a Dutch Bucket hydroponic system:

Pros And Cons Of Dutch Bucket Systems

The Advantages Of Dutch Bucket Systems

  • It has a simple structure that is effortless to build, making it a top choice for commercial greenhouses or amateur gardeners.
  • It gives the plants a neat arrangement since everything is located orderly in a bucket.
  • The system makes it easier to deal with disease and pests on plants. Instead of getting rid of the whole thing, you can have a closer look at each plant and remove only the infected plants.
  • The system can pump and drain the water automatically without any involvement of human labor while increasing fruit production.
  • The building material and the supporting tools are budget-friendly.

The Disadvantages Of Dutch Bucket Systems

  • The drip droppers and drainage lines will easily clog if the growing medium is under bad conditions, such as a lack of moisture.
  • Since the buckets stay next to one another, a disease can spread among the plants faster than usual.


This is eventually the end of our post discussing the Dutch bucket system. We have tried to gather as much essential information into this post as possible with the hope of providing you with the broadest overview of this topic.

For that reason, we hope you have learned something new about the Dutch bucket method and known how to apply it to your own business.

We wish you health and don’t forget to drop by when we release similar posts.

What Is A Dutch Bucket System And How To Build It?
Photo of author

Jill Sandy

I am a sustainable focus gardener. I love decorating my home backyard with beautiful landscape design and creative garden care techniques I develop myself.