Build Your Own Hydroponics System


Hydroponics forgoes soil in favor of water and a growing medium that might actually be merely air. Into the water goes nutrients specially formulated for such a gardening system, allowing plants to grow faster because roots don't have to find what they need in soil. The downside of hydroponics is that plants must be tended to often and meticulously. For this reason, beginners should start with a simple hydroponics system until they get used to this method of growing plants.

Step 1

Drill or punch six to 10 holes about a 1.5 inches from the bottom of the clean bucket. Holes should be about a half-inch in diameter. Put the bucket on a tray or other base.

Step 2

Stand the mesh inside the pot in front of the holes.

Step 3

Prepare the growing medium according to the directions on the packaging.

Step 4

Add the growing medium to the bucket, making sure the mesh stays in front of the holes.

Step 5

Plant the seedling or seed(s) in the growing medium.

Step 6

Add the hydroponic fertilizer to the water according to the package directions.

Step 7

Test the pH of the resulting nutrient solution, following the directions on the package.

Step 8

Adjust the pH, if necessary, according to the needs of your plant. Tomatoes, for example, enjoy a pH of 5.5 to 6.5, which is slightly acidic. (Water has a pH of 7 if it's pure.)

Step 9

Add the nutrient solution to the bucket until it begins to come out of the holes in the bottom of the bucket. Add solution one to three times a day, or as often as necessary.

Tips and Warnings

  • Wear a dust mask when working with perlite. Handle pH adjusters with care. Wear gloves and do not let the chemicals come in contact with eyes.

Things You'll Need

  • 5 gallon bucket
  • Tray or other base larger than the bottom of the bucket
  • Drill or awl
  • Plastic or fiberglass mesh
  • Growing medium: 50-50 mix of perlite and vermiculite, or soilless mix
  • 1 tomato or pepper seedling or seed, or 2 small lettuce or herb plants
  • Hydroponic fertilizer
  • pH test strips or test kit
  • pH adjuster


  • Hydroponics for Home Gardeners-Alabama Cooperative Extension System
  • Hand-Watered Bucket-Simply Hydroponics
  • Hydroponics-Microfarm Sustainable Research and Education

Who Can Help

  • Simply Hydroponics-pH
Keywords: hydroponic gardening, hydroponic system, creating a hydroponic system, building a hydroponic system

About this Author

Sophie Johnson is a freelance writer and editor of both print and film media. A freelancer for more than 20 years, Johnson has had the opportunity to cover topics ranging from construction to music to celebrity interviews.