How to Build a Hydroponics Growing System


Hydroponic growing systems are designed for plants to grow in water or a soilless planting medium. A flood and drain system, also called an ebb and flow system, is easy to build and maintain. The plants grow in a container of soilless media, which is regularly flooded with a nutrient solution that drains into a reservoir to be reused. This type of system allows the roots of the plants to stay moist without constantly staying underwater, which can cause root rot.

Step 1

Build a frame with the 2x4s with the narrow edges as the top and bottom of the railings, by using the hammer to nail the cut end of a short side piece (3 2/3 feet) to the smooth end of a long side piece (6 feet). Nail the cut end of the remaining short side piece to the other end of the long side piece. Match the second long side piece to the free cut ends of the short pieces and nail together to form a box.

Step 2

Space the 3 4/5 feet long pieces evenly across the frame for bottom slats and nail together.

Step 3

Turn the framework over and nail a 3 feet long 2x4 to the end of each long side for the legs. Match the cut ends of the legs with the top side of the frame so the edges are flush.

Step 4

Line the bed with black plastic and fold the excess over the top of the frame. Use the staple gun to staple the plastic to the outside of the frame. Do not staple the plastic on the inside of the frame because the plastic will leak.

Step 5

Use the drill to make a ¾ inch hole in one side of the box for the drain tube. Cover one end of the drain tube with fine screen to prevent clogging by the growing medium. Insert the opposite end of the tube through the hole from the inside of the box to the outside so it will drain into a dark colored 5-gallon bucket. Seal the inside and the outside of the hole around the tube with aquarium silicone sealant. Let dry according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Step 6

Fill the box with soilless planting medium and plant seedlings in the medium.

Step 7

Mix the nutrient solution with water following the manufacturer's directions in a clean, dark-colored container and fill the planter box. You can reuse the solution in the drain bucket for two weeks before mixing a new batch of solution. Use the old solution to water container plants or outside plants.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 pieces 2x4, 6 feet long (long sides)
  • 2 pieces 2x4, 3 2/3 feet long (short sides)
  • 12 pieces 2x4, 3 4/5 feet long (slats)
  • 4 pieces 2x4, 3 feet long (legs)
  • Hammer
  • 16D nails
  • 4 ½ x 7 feet black plastic
  • Staple gun
  • Staples
  • Drill
  • ¾ inch drill bit
  • 5 feet ¾ inch OD black tubing
  • Small piece of fine screen
  • Dark colored 5-gallon bucket
  • Aquarium silicone sealant
  • Planting medium
  • Seedlings
  • Dark colored container
  • Nutrient solution
  • Water


  • Growing Edge: Simple Bed Grower
  • University of Illinois: Hydroponics Systems

Who Can Help

  • Texas A&M University: Hydroponics As a Hobby
  • Homemade Hydroponics: How To Build a Homemade System
  • Hydroponics At Home: Home Hydroponics The Easy Way
Keywords: build hydroponics system, hydroponics growing system, flood and drain hydroponics, ebb and flow hydroponics

About this Author

Melody Lee worked as a newspaper reporter, copywriter and editor for 5 years. In addition, she has edited magazine articles and books. Lee holds a degree in landscape design and is a Florida master gardener. She has more than 25 years of gardening experience, which includes working at nurseries and greenhouses.