How to Set-Up Hydroponics


A hydroponics system is a simple way to grow vegetables and herbs in a small area. A typical system consists of a reservoir for the nutrient solution, a tray to hold the plants so the roots grow in the solution, and an aeration system to introduce oxygen into the solution. Plants in a hydroponics garden receive a continuous supply of fertilizer, water and oxygen from the nutrient solution and grow faster than plants in soil. In addition, the vegetables are usually bigger and of better quality.

Step 1

Use a pair of scissors to cut a piece of heavy plastic large enough to line the inside and overlap the top edges of one of the Styrofoam coolers. Smooth the plastic against the sides and bottom inside the cooler and pull it tightly over the top edges. Use duct tape to secure the edges to the outside of the cooler. Repeat this process with the second cooler.

Step 2

Use a serrated-edge knife to cut a hole large enough for the aquarium tubing close to the top of one of the coolers. Attach a piece of tubing to an air stone. Place the air stone on a clean rock in the cooler and pull the tubing through the hole in the side of the cooler. Repeat with the second cooler.

Step 3

Connect the two-way splitter to the aquarium pump. Attach the other ends of the two pieces of tubing to the splitter.

Step 4

Combine the nutrient mix with water, according to the manufacturer's directions and fill both coolers.

Step 5

Cut the bottom out of each plant pot, but leave the plants in the pots. Use one of the bottom pieces as a template to cut four or six equally spaced holes in each cooler lid depending on how many plants you have. Turn lids upside down and set one on each cooler. Set the plant pots in the holes--the edges of the pots should support the pots so the roots hang down into the nutrient solution.

Step 6

Plug in and turn on the air pump.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 styrofoam coolers
  • Scissors
  • Heavy plastic
  • Duct tape
  • Serrated-edge knife
  • Aquarium pump
  • 2-way splitter for pump
  • 2 pieces of aquarium pump tubing, 2 feet long
  • 2 air stones
  • 2 clean rocks
  • Nutrient mix
  • Water
  • 8 to 12 plants


  • Texas A&M University: Hydroponics As A Hobby
  • Home Hydroponics

Who Can Help

  • Homemade Hydroponics: Make Your Own Vegetable Garden
  • Virginia State University: Home Hydroponics
  • University of Illinois: Symptoms of Nutrient Deficiencies
Keywords: set up hydroponics, hydroponics garden, hydroponics system

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.