How To A Do Hydroponics System (Expert Advice)

Hydroponics is the process of growing plants without soil. It allows you to grow them in any environment, including indoors, and provides access to more nutrients than soil alone can provide. 

Hydroponics systems come in many shapes and sizes but all have one thing in common: a container that holds water with some sort of medium used for growing plants. 

There are different types of hydroponic systems that use different types of containers, so let’s take a look at each one below!

DIY | How To Build Your Own Hydroponics System
Takeaways from How to Build a Hydroponic System
Hydroponic systems can be built DIY-style or purchased pre-made
Building a hydroponic system DIY-style requires choosing a system type, gathering materials, and assembling the system
Hydroponic systems typically require a growing medium, nutrient solution, and a pH testing kit
Different crops may require different types of hydroponic systems and nutrient solutions
Maintaining proper nutrient and pH levels is crucial for the health and growth of hydroponic plants

Selecting a Hydroponic System

Now that you’re familiar with the basics of hydroponics, it’s time to select a system. Hydroponic systems vary widely in cost and complexity, so before making your selection, consider which aspects are most important for you.

For example:

  • Do you want to grow indoors or outdoors?
  • Are you looking for a large-scale or small-scale system?
  • Will this be an educational tool for children or will it provide food for yourself and your family?

Making sure your hydroponic system receives enough nutrients is crucial for successful plant growth. To learn more about adding nutrients to your hydroponic system, check out our guide on how to add nutrients to the hydroponic system.

Selecting the Right Container

Plastic containers are best for hydroponic systems because they’re lightweight, easy to clean and disinfect, can be reused and can be used to make a hydroponic system.

For instance: If you’re just starting out and want a simple system that won’t cost much money or take up too much space in your home, you could use an old five gallon bucket. Just cut off the top of the bucket so that there’s about five inches at the bottom; this is where the water will sit. 

Then drill three holes along the side of this opening (each hole should be about half an inch in diameter). 

You’ll want to place two more holes on top of your bucket–one on each side near its edge–so that when you put it back together after drilling these last two holes out of all four sides with 1/2″ drill bit they will line up perfectly with those lower down which means no leaks! 

Finally fill with nutrient solution using multiple small pots instead of one big one since this will help prevent algae growth.”

Understanding the Types of Mediums Used

The hydroponics medium is the material that holds the nutrients and water for your plants to grow in. 

Choosing the right one depends on the type of plants you are growing, how much space you have, and whether or not you want to invest in a soil-less medium.

Some common types of hydroponics systems:

Soil-less mediums – these are often made out of peat moss or coco coir, which are both natural products that won’t leach any chemicals into your water supply or otherwise cause problems for your system’s pH balance. 

Some growers prefer these types because they can be reused and repurposed once they’ve been used up by the plant; however, others prefer using soil-based media because it allows them more control over their environment since it has some ability to retain moisture even when drained through an overflow system (more on this later).

Soil-based mediums – if you’re planning on growing large trees or bushes in containers outside then this might be more appropriate for you since it allows a lot more flexibility when it comes to having enough room for roots without having them become tangled together during growth cycles.”

Maintaining the optimal pH level is important for the health and growth of your hydroponic plants. If your pH needs adjusting, our guide on how to bring pH down in hydroponics can help you with step-by-step instructions.

Deciding on the Container Drainage System

The drainage system is the most important part of a hydroponic system. The quality of your drainage system will determine how well your plants grow and whether or not you will have a successful hydroponic system.

There are many different types of containers that can be used for this purpose, but the two most common are white PVC pipe and net pots. They each have their own benefits and drawbacks, so it’s up to you which one works best for your needs!

Making Your Nutrient Reservoir

To make your nutrient reservoir, you’ll need a container that’s easy to clean and durable. Plastic or glass work well, but it’s also possible to use a bucket.

The size of your nutrient reservoir depends on the number of plants you’re growing and how much space each plant needs for its roots. 

A good rule of thumb is that each plant should take up about 5% of the total reservoir volume (this also means if you have 10 plants, they’ll need 50% of the water). 

A more precise way to do this would be to measure out exactly how much water will be needed for all your plants’ roots, then divide that by 5%. For example, if there are 20 inches worth of roots for one plant: 20 inches / 5 = 4 inches per root; 4 x 2 = 8 inches total (or 2 gallons).

Fungus can be detrimental to your hydroponic plants and is a common problem among hydroponic growers. To learn how to prevent fungus and keep your plants healthy, take a look at our guide on how to avoid fungus in hydroponics.

Creating the Right Lighting for Your Plants

If you have a large amount of plants in your hydroponics system, HID lights are the right choice. These are high-intensity discharge bulbs that can produce up to 18 times more light than fluorescent bulbs and they last longer too.

For small plants, such as lettuce and herbs, fluorescent lighting is best because it uses less energy than a HID lamp while still giving off enough light for good plant growth. Fluorescent lamps also come in a variety of shapes to fit any type of space where they’ll be used (tube style or ballast/lamp combo).

LED grow lights are the most energy efficient way to get your plants growing well, but since they emit less light than other types of fixtures their use is limited unless you’re growing only very small seedlings or cuttings indoors without any actual sunlight coming through windows or skylights 

And even then it may be better to use something else since LEDs don’t provide enough power for larger plant growth needs like those found outdoors with plenty coming from above ground sources like suns rays hitting leaves directly (vs indirect via mirrors).

Setting Up Watering and Draining

Once you’ve established a nutrient system for your plants, it’s time to set up the watering system.

Plants need to be watered daily, so you should create a system that will allow for this to happen at the same time every day. 

One option is to use a watering can or drip system. If using a water bottle, make sure drainage holes are placed in the bottom of your container so excess water can drain out as quickly as possible. This will prevent mold growth and keep roots healthy by letting them breathe properly.

If you’re interested in incorporating fish into your hydroponic system, our guide on how to build a hydroponic system with fish can provide you with valuable insight and guidance.

Drip Systems

Drip systems are the most popular hydroponic system, and they’re perfect for beginners. They’re also easy to set up, so you can grow leafy greens and herbs in a small space.


Because drip systems don’t use water pump or air pump, they can be as simple as placing your plants in pots above a reservoir and adding nutrient solution every few weeks. 

If you want something more elaborate, though or if your reservoir doesn’t have enough space for garden beds you can add an automatic timer that switches on your pumps at specific times during the day to deliver nutrients directly to each plant’s roots.

Drip systems are good for small spaces because they use little power and don’t produce much heat (since there’s no water pump). 

That makes them ideal when there isn’t much room between rows of plants like in a greenhouse or outdoor garden shed!

Ebb & Flow Systems

Ebb and Flow systems are used for growing mediums such as gravel, rockwool, or coconut fiber. 

This type of system uses a pump to deliver nutrient solution to the plants, which drains back into the reservoir from where it is pumped again up to the top of the plant roots.

Ebb & Flow Systems have one issue that needs to be corrected: they don’t always work at their peak capacity since there are dead spots in between each run; however, with proper monitoring this problem can be easily solved by adjusting flow rates.

Thinking about starting your own hydroponic farm? Check out our guide on how to build a hydroponic farm for tips on building and maintaining a successful farm.

Aeroponic Systems (Soilless)

Aeroponic systems are a type of hydroponic system that uses mist to deliver nutrients to the plants. 

Aeroponics has been used for centuries by farmers and gardeners, but in recent years it has also become popular among hobbyists because it produces fast results without using soilless growing mediums.

Aeroponic systems are different from other types of hydroponics because they use no growing medium like sand or gravel. 

The roots of the plants are suspended in air, which means you will need to keep your plants hanging and not on the ground.

If you want to try an aeroponic setup but aren’t sure how, here’s how:

Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) Hydroponics Systems

NFT hydroponic systems are a great way to grow more types of plants than you can with drip irrigation. They’re also more efficient, because the roots aren’t in direct contact with the water and they don’t waste any energy on trying to absorb oxygen from it.

The nutrient film technique (NFT) is a hydroponic system that uses a shallow stream of nutrient-rich water to deliver nutrients to the roots of plants. The roots are suspended in the water and are not in direct contact with the medium.

Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) Hydroponics Systems

DefinitionNutrient Film Technique (NFT) is a type of hydroponic system that uses a shallow stream of nutrient-rich water to continuously flow over the plant roots.
ComponentsNFT systems typically consist of a sloping channel or gully, nutrient solution reservoir, and a submersible pump to circulate the water.
AdvantagesNFT systems use less water than traditional soil-based growing methods, require less space, and can produce crops year-round.
DisadvantagesNFT systems can be difficult to maintain proper nutrient and pH levels in the water stream, and the constant water flow can make the system vulnerable to power outages or pump malfunctions.
Suitable plantsNFT systems are best suited for shallow-rooted plants like lettuce, herbs, and strawberries. Larger plants or those with deeper root systems may not be suitable for NFT systems.

Wick Systems

Wick systems have been around for centuries, and they’re still a great option for hydroponics. You can use them to deliver water and nutrients to plants that grow in the medium.

Wicks are made from a material that has a high surface area, such as cotton or felt. The wick is placed in the water reservoir at the base of your system and then hung over the top of your plant’s roots (either directly into the medium or hanging above it).

Aquaponics Systems

Aquaponics is a method of growing plants and fish together in a recirculating system. It combines aquaculture (fish farming) with hydroponics (growing plants in water). 

The key to aquaponics is that the fish waste provides nutrients to the plants, which cleanse the water before it’s returned to them.

Here’s how it works:

A tank contains fish, which produce ammonia as waste. The ammonia levels rise unless they are rinsed out by fresh water from another tank or some other source (e.g., rainwater). Aquaponics uses this natural process to help feed your plants; without it, the ammonia could harm them.

Aquaponics Systems

DefinitionAquaponics is a method of growing plants and fish together in a recirculating system, combining aquaculture with hydroponics.
ComponentsAn aquaponic system consists of a fish tank, grow bed, and a recirculating system that carries water and nutrients from the fish tank to the grow bed.
BenefitsAquaponics systems use less water than traditional growing methods, and the fish provide nutrients for the plants, eliminating the need for chemical fertilizers.
Fish typesDifferent fish species can be used in aquaponics systems, with tilapia, trout, and catfish being popular choices.
Plant typesMost plants can be grown successfully in aquaponic systems, including herbs, fruits, and vegetables. Popular crops include lettuce, strawberries, and tomatoes.


Now that you have an idea of what you need to start a hydroponics system, it’s time to get started on your very own hydroponic garden! 

You can make this as simple or complex as you’d like. Hydroponic gardening is not only fun and rewarding but also allows for more control over what goes into your plants.

Further Reading

If you’re interested in learning more about hydroponic gardening and systems, be sure to check out these helpful resources:

How to Build a Hydroponic Garden: This article from Better Homes & Gardens provides step-by-step instructions for building your own hydroponic garden.

What are Hydroponic Systems?: Fresh Water Systems’ blog post explains what hydroponic systems are and how they work.

How to Build Your Own Hydroponic System: A Beginner’s Guide: Square Mile Farms’ guide provides introductory information and guidance for those interested in building their own hydroponic system.


What is hydroponic gardening?

Hydroponic gardening is a type of gardening that relies on water and nutrient solutions instead of soil to grow plants.

What are the benefits of hydroponic gardening?

Hydroponic gardening can produce higher yields of crops compared to traditional soil-based gardening. It also uses less water and space, and allows for year-round growing.

Are there different types of hydroponic systems?

There are several types of hydroponic systems, including deep water culture, nutrient film technique, aeroponics, ebb and flow, and drip systems. Each system has its own unique characteristics and benefits.

What types of plants can be grown in hydroponic systems?

Most plants can be grown successfully in hydroponic systems, including vegetables, fruits, and herbs. Some popular hydroponic crops include lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, basil, and strawberries.

What do I need to get started with hydroponic gardening?

To get started with hydroponic gardening, you will need a hydroponic system, growing medium, nutrient solution, and plants. Some systems may also require additional equipment, such as grow lights or fans.