How To Build Cheap Hydroponic System (Easy Guide)

Hydroponics and aquaponics are great ways to grow your own food. They require little space, use less water than traditional agriculture, and still give you fresh produce year-round. 

But if you’re new to hydroponics or just trying to get started on a budget, there are some tricks to building a cheap system that will make the process even easier!

DIY | How To Build Your Own Hydroponics System
Tips for building a hydroponic garden for beginners.
Pro guide for building a hydroponic system for lettuce.
Guide on how to build a cheap hydroponic system.
Step-by-step guide to build a hydroponic tower garden.
Gardener advice on building a vertical hydroponic garden.
Additional resources on building hydroponic systems.
Answers to commonly asked questions about hydroponic gardening.

Get the Materials Together

You’ve probably already seen the rest of this series, or at least the title. But if not, consider this your invitation to go back and check it out. 

It’s a quick read that will give you all the information you need to build your own cheap hydroponic system.

But for now, let’s get started on building our own!

The first thing we have to do is gather up all of our materials so that we can start working with them. This includes everything from buckets and tubing down through connectors and pumps (or air stones). Even if this seems like a lot of stuff at once—we assure you that it won’t be too difficult once you get into it!

Paint the Buckets

  • Make sure the paint you use is high quality, water-based and safe for food.
  • Start by painting the inside of your bucket with a white or light colour, then let it dry for a few hours before coating the outside of the container.
  • If you want to create a design on your bucket, now is the time to do so!

Hydroponic gardening is a great way to grow plants without soil, and it is easy to get started with the right information. Check out our beginner’s guide on how to build a hydroponic garden to learn the basics of hydroponics, including what equipment you need and how to set up your system.

Drill Holes for Tubing

It’s time to get your drill out and start drilling. Drill holes in the lid of both buckets so that when you put them together, they form a seal. 

The holes should be about 5mm in diameter for low-pressure tubing (if you’re using this type).

You’ll also need to drill some more holes into the lids of each bucket. These will allow air flow through the system so that water doesn’t evaporate too quickly from your plants’ roots!

Drill Holes for Drainage

You’ll need to drill holes in the bottom of both the upper and lower buckets. The goal is for water to drip out of these holes, so you want them relatively small about 1/2″ should be plenty.

Drill one more drainage hole in each bucket lid: one near the top edge and another near the bottom edge. 

This way you can easily remove your growing media from both buckets without disturbing too much soil from within each one.

If you are interested in growing lettuce in your hydroponic garden, check out our pro guide on how to build a hydroponic system for lettuce. This guide will provide you with the specialized knowledge that you need to grow lettuce hydroponically, including the right nutrient mix and ideal temperature and lighting conditions.

Fit Plastic Tubing Into the Upper Bucket

To fit the plastic tubing into the upper bucket, use a funnel to fill it with nutrient solution. Insert one end of the tubing into an air stone and secure it in place with tape or by tying a knot around it. 

Make sure that there is plenty of water pressure coming from your pump and that all connections are tight before turning on your system.

Make sure that you have placed everything neatly so as not to confuse yourself later when you go to take care of your plants.

Bend the Tubing and Insert Through the Lower Bucket

Bend the tubing. If you’re using 1/2-inch tubing, use a heat gun to bend it in half and then straighten it out again. This will create a 90 degree angle where the tube meets your bucket.

Attach the tubing to the bucket with a hose clamp (available at any hardware store). Be sure that it’s not too tight or too loose; if it’s too tight, you won’t be able to remove it when cleaning time comes around; if it’s too loose, water will leak out of your system.

Use a sharp knife or scissors to cut off any excess length of plastic from both sides of each elbow joint connection point on both ends of each piece of pipe before connecting them together with plumber’s tape or Teflon tape

Building a hydroponic system doesn’t have to break the bank. Our easy guide on how to build a cheap hydroponic system will show you how to create a low-cost hydroponic system that works just as well as more expensive options. You’ll learn how to make your own hydroponic system using materials that you can find at your local hardware store.

Cap the Bottom of the Growth Chamber

First, you want to cap the bottom of your grow chamber. Use a PVC cap and cut it with a hole saw that matches the inside diameter of your bucket’s flange. You can also use a drill bit if you don’t have access to a hole saw.

Next, drill drainage holes through the side walls at the top edge of your bucket (about an inch from each end). 

These will allow excess water from overflow to drain down into your reservoir. Drill about 3/4″ apart for best results if you’re using thinner plastic like polyethylene or polypropylene (which are more common in cheap grow systems), it’ll be harder for air bubbles in your system to escape otherwise and could lead to stagnant conditions inside your grower chamber which could stunt plant growth!

Finally, cut holes into both ends of every tube so that they fit snugly inside one another when connecting them together and place them onto their respective ports on either side of each module piece!

Assemble Your Hydroponic System

Once you’ve got all the parts, it’s time to assemble your hydroponic system. The first step is to put the pump in the reservoir and connect it to a timer. 

You can set this up so that the pump runs for a few minutes every hour or so, or continuously if you want. 

Next, connect your system to a water source and drain so that it can be filled with water and emptied when necessary (if there is no gravity-fed option available). 

Finally, attach some kind of tubing or netting overtop of where your plants will go this will allow them to get their nutrients while still allowing light through so they can photosynthesize!

A tower garden is a vertical hydroponic system that is perfect for small spaces. If you’re interested in building your own tower garden, check out our step-by-step guide on how to build a hydroponic tower garden. This guide will walk you through the process of building your own tower garden, from selecting the right plants to setting up your hydroponic system.

Set up Your Pumps, Timers, and Reservoirs

Now that you have your components and soil, it’s time to set them up. Set up the pumps, timers, and reservoirs first. 

Then test your system so that you know it is working correctly before planting anything. If something goes wrong during this process, here are some troubleshooting tips:

  • Check that all of your connections are secure by pushing hard on each one with a pencil or screwdriver handle until they’re tight.
  • Make sure there are no leaks in any of the hoses or tubing by applying soapy water along each connection point. If bubbles form around a leaky section of hose or tubing (or if no bubbles form at all), then there is definitely a leak somewhere!

Supplies Needed to Set up Pumps, Timers, and Reservoirs

Water PumpA small pump to circulate the water throughout your system.
TubingPlastic tubing to connect the pump to the rest of the system.
TimerA timer to control how often the pump runs.
ReservoirA container to hold the nutrient-rich water solution.
Nutrient SolutionThe solution of nutrients that you will be providing to your plants.
pH Testing KitA kit to test and adjust the pH level of your water.
Electrical Safety EquipmentAs you are working with water and electricity, it is essential to have GFCI outlet adapters, gloves and boots for electrical protection.

Note: The specific equipment necessary for setting up your pumps, timers, and reservoirs may vary depending on the design of your hydroponic system. It’s important to consult your system’s user manual for specific information on the equipment you will need for setup.

Set up the Reservoirs

You’ll need to set up the reservoirs after you have the plumbing in place. Be sure to attach the pump and timer before turning on your system, as this will allow you to make any last-minute adjustments.

Once you’ve got everything connected, fill each reservoir with water. The water levels should equalize, so if one reservoir is higher than another, unplug or turn off your pump and adjust accordingly. 

Once they’re at the same level, connect them using PVC pipe (or whatever material will work best for your specific setup). As long as both reservoirs are filled with water, there shouldn’t be any leaks!

 A vertical hydroponic garden can be a great way to maximize your growing space and grow a variety of plants. Check out our gardener advice on how to build a vertical hydroponic garden to learn how to create a vertical garden that is perfect for your needs. You’ll learn about different types of plants that are best suited for vertical growing, as well as how to set up your vertical hydroponic system for optimal results.

Put it All Together!

The last step of the process is to put it all together! You’ll need:

  • A timer
  • The pump(s) and tubing from your shopping list.
  • Your system itself, including the grow bed and air stones.

# Now you’re ready to connect things up! Connect the timer to your pumps first by plugging it into an outlet in your home or disconnecting from power for a few seconds and then connecting them together with a standard electrical extension cord. 

Then connect the pumps to their respective water supplies (reservoirs) with another extension cord, flipping on power off/on again when necessary to make sure they turn on as they should. 

Finally, fill up each reservoir with water before placing them onto their respective growing beds; repeat this process until all reservoirs are filled and placed within reach of one another but not too close together to avoid unnecessary heat loss due to evaporation from leaves touching each other directly

Supplies Needed to Put Together Your Hydroponic System

ContainerChoose a pot or bucket with a lid that is large enough to hold your plants and can support your grow tray.
Grow TrayThis is the tray where your plants will grow. It should be large enough to hold all of the plants you want to grow.
Growing MediumA material such as perlite or coconut coir to provide support for your plants’ roots.
Net PotsThese are plastic cups that hold your plants in place and allow the roots to dangle in the water.
Water PumpA small submersible water pump to circulate the nutrient-rich water solution through your system.
Tubing/HosesPlastic tubing to connect the water pump to the hose and distribute the water evenly to your plants.
Nutrient SolutionA pre-mixed solution purchased from your local garden supply store or mixed at home.
Lighting Systemif not enough natural light is available, you may need to supplement with grow lights.
TimerYou may elect to use a timer for your water pump if you’re not around to turn it on and off daily.

Note: You may need additional equipment depending on the specific design of your hydroponic system.


I hope this article has given you a better idea of what it takes to build your own hydroponic system. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at my email address. 

Good luck with your own construction project!

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources on building hydroponic systems:

How to Build Your Own Hydroponic System: A Beginner’s Guide: This guide provides a thorough step-by-step process to create your hydroponic system for beginners.

How to Build a Cheap Hydroponic System: A Step-by-Step Guide: This guide explains how to create a low-cost hydroponic system with a plastic container and other common household items.

How to Build a Homemade Hydroponics System: This wikiHow article includes several DIY hydroponic system ideas with detailed instructions and illustrations.


What is hydroponic gardening?

Hydroponic gardening is a method of growing plants without soil. Instead, it uses a nutrient-rich water solution to deliver nutrients directly to the plant roots.

Why should I try hydroponic gardening?

Hydroponic gardening has several advantages over traditional soil-based gardening. It allows for more precise control over growing conditions, which can lead to faster growth and higher yields. Additionally, hydroponics uses less water than traditional gardening methods.

What do I need to build a hydroponic system?

The basic components of a hydroponic system include a container for holding the water solution, a pump to circulate the solution, and a set of grow trays to hold the plants. You will also need growing medium to support the plant roots and a nutrient solution to feed the plants.

Do I need special equipment to build a hydroponic system?

No, you don’t need to purchase expensive equipment to build a hydroponic system. Many basic components can be found at a hardware store, and you can often repurpose items you already have on hand.

What plants can I grow using hydroponics?

Most plants can be grown using hydroponics, including leafy greens, herbs, vegetables, and fruits. Some of the most popular hydroponically-grown plants include lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, and strawberries.