How to Build a Cheap Hydroponics System


Hydroponics is a method of growing plants in nutrient-infused water instead of soil. The benefit of using a hydroponics system is the ability to grow vegetables year-round with a reduced risk of disease and insect problems in the plants. A home-built deep-water hydroponics system, also called a bubbling planter, is low in cost and uses supplies found at most discount stores. This basic system works well for beginners wanting to try growing with a hydroponics system.

Step 1

Set the cover on a flat surface and place the netted pots across the top with the lip side facing down. The first row contains four pots, the second contains three pots and the third contains four pots.

Step 2

Mark the cover with the location of the netted pots by tracing around the lip with a permanent marker. Remove the netted pots from the cover and locate the center of the marking. Set the pointed end of a compass in the center of the marking and draw a new line 1/2 inch inside.

Step 3

Cut out the inside circle markings on the cover with a sharp knife to create 11 holes. Cut slits around the hole from the edge to the outside marking at a distance of 1/2 inch apart. Set the netted pots into the holes so the lip is flush with the cover.

Step 4

Drill a 1/2 inch hole above the handle and feed the aerator plastic tubing through it. Place the aerator stone in the bottom of the tub and attach it to the plastic tubing. Set the air pump on the outside of the tub and attach the opposite end of the plastic tubing.

Step 5

Set the tub on top of wood slats in the growing location. Elevating the tub will make it easy to wipe up spilled water. Set a plastic container or cover over the pump to prevent water from spilling on it.

Step 6

Add water to the tub so the netted pots will be submerged 1 inch. Add hydroponics nutrients to the water based on the package instructions based on the amount of water in the tub.

Step 7

Place the cover on the tub and snap the handles to hold in place. Secure the cover to the tub by drilling a hole through the tub and cover in each corner. Thread one zip tie into each hole and pull to secure.

Step 8

Rinse the soil off the seedling roots prior to planting in the hydroponics system. Fill the netted pots 1/2 to 2/3 full of hydroponics medium, set the seedling roots into the pot and fill medium around the stem to hold in place.

Step 9

Monitor the water level to prevent the pots from drying. Add hydroponics nutrients to the water to maintain the proper level for plant growth.

Things You'll Need

  • 18-gallon tub and cover
  • Aerator stone
  • 3-watt water pump
  • Netted pots
  • Marking pen
  • Compass
  • Sharp knife
  • Hydroponics nutrients
  • Wood slats
  • Small container
  • Drill
  • Zip ties
  • Hydroponics planting medium
  • Water


  • Simply Hydroponics: Water Culture System
  • How to Hydroponics: Build a Bubbling Hydroponic Planter
  • Virginia Cooperative Extension: Home Hydroponics
Keywords: build cheap hydroponics, make home hydroponics, build hydroponics planter

About this Author

Jennifer Loucks has over 10 years of experience as a former technical writer for a software development company in Wisconsin. Her writing experience includes creating software documentation and help documents for clients and staff along with training curriculum. Loucks holds a Bachelor of Science major from the University of Wisconsin - River Falls specializing in animal science and business.