Hydroponics Vs. Soil Growing


The difference between hydroponics gardening and traditional soil gardening is that hydroponics uses no soil. Plants are suspended above a nutrient solution--water plus fertilizer--or anchored in some growing medium above the solution, allowing roots to feed from the liquid.

Water Use

Hydroponics actually uses less water than soil gardening---up to 90 percent less--because hydroponic designs typically recycle the water.


Hydroponics gardening relies on fertilizer added to the water, because no soil is available to provide nutrients; therefore, hydroponics requires chemicals, while you can enrich soil with organic matter.


Hydroponic gardens rely on gardeners to control the amount of the nutrients, ensure the pH is correct and ensure the roots don't dry out. In short, hydroponic gardens need more attention than soil gardens.

Supplying Needs

Hydroponics can produce anything a soil garden can, but growers have to supply things that soil gardeners take for granted, like light and a growing medium to replace soil.


Soil gardeners must make do with whatever outdoor environment they have. Hydroponics frees gardeners to grow crops whether they live in the desert or tundra.


  • Microfarm Sustainable Research and Education
  • Alabama Cooperative Extension System
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Who Can Help

  • Simply Hydroponics
Keywords: hydroponic gardening, growing with hydroponics, hydroponics vs. soil

About this Author

S. Johnson is a freelance writer and editor of both print and film media who specializes in making the complex clear. A freelancer for over 20 years, Johnson has had the opportunity to cover many topics ranging from construction to music to celebrity interviews, learning a lot and talking to many interesting people.