How to Build A Cheap Hydroponic System: A Conclusive Guide

Nowadays, growing plants hydroponically has become more popular because the plants that grow in this system thrive faster than the soil-based plants. All they need is a growing medium, water, and nutrients to grow healthily. Plus, you need to care them well too.

If you are planning to build a hydroponics system for the plants and don’t have any clue how to build one, then you have come to the right place. I will describe you briefly how to build a cheap hydroponic system in the most simple way so that you can build your own amazing hydroponics garden.

How to Build A Cheap Hydroponic System
Credit Image: Wikimedia

Building Cheap Hydroponic System

There are several methods to build a cheap hydroponic system. Let’s taka a look on a few of them.

1) How to Build a DWC Hydroponic System?

In the Deep Water Culture (DWC) hydroponics system, you need a container to fill it with water and nutrients. An air pump and air stones are necessary to oxygenate the water and also some net pots to place the plants.

Note that water temperature control in DWC gardening is very important to grow the plants healthily. It is better to have an idea about DWC Water Temp Control. Now, let me tell you how to build DWC hydroponics system while spending less

The Materials Required:

  • A medium/large-sized container
  • Net Pots (Depends on the number of the plants)
  • Growing medium
  • An air pump
  • A tube
  • Nutrients
  • A knife


  1. First of all, take a net pot and put it on the top of the container or lid and mark the bottom of the net pot with a marker or pencil.
  2. Next drill/cutout the marking parts on the lid with a knife and make sure that the net pots can be tightly fit into these cutout parts. The slots on the net pots help in spreading out the roots to come in contact with the nutrient solution.
  3. Now make another small hole at the top corner of the lid for the tube of the air pump to pass inside the container, or you can make a small hole at the upper side of the container.
  4. Pass the one end of the tube through the small hole of the container and make sure it reaches the container’s bottom.
  5. Next, fill half of the container with water or fill it up to one inch above the bottom of the net pots and then mix necessary nutrients into the water following the instructions.
  6. Fill the net pot with a growing medium like Hydroton, coconut coir, or vermiculite. Next, sow the little seeds about ½ inch deep inside the growing media and place the net pots into the cutout parts.
  7. Now connect the other end of the tube to the air pump and then turn it on for oxygenating the water.

This system is the best hydroponic system for beginners as it is cost-effective and also requires less maintenance. But, it is not suitable for large plants, small herbs are best for growing in this system.

cheap hydroponic system for weed
Credit Image: Wikimedia

2) How to Build a NFT Hydroponic System?

The Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) hydroponics system is a bit complex to build. It is a recirculating system, where the nutrient solution in the reservoir is pumped up towards the channel and the nutrient solution runs along at the bottom of it and wets the roots of each plant from one side to the other.

When the water solution reaches the end of the channel, it returns into the reservoir again. The roots of the plants are not fully submerged into the water.

The Materials Required:

  • 75-L Reservoir/ 5-gallon bucket.
  • A medium-sized PVC pipe
  • Air pump
  • Air-stone
  • Tubings
  • 2 rubber adjustable end caps
  • 2 hose clamps
  • Water pump
  • Nutrients
  • Sawhorses
  • Net pots
  • Growing media of your choice
  • Knife
  • Drill machine


  1. Take the reservoir and make a hole at the side of it, 2-inch lower from the top, with a knife or a drill machine. Now put the air stone in the reservoir and pass the tube through the hole and connect it with the air stone.
  2. Next, make another hole at the opposite side of the reservoir, in the same way, for the power cord of the water pump, and make two ½ inch holes at the top of the reservoir for the supply and drain tubes.
  3. Place the water pump inside the reservoir and pass the power cord through the side hole and the supply tube through the top supply hole and attach it with the water pump.
  4. Make 4-5 holes at the top of the PVC pipes according to the size of the net pots. Make sure to keep a 1-ft space between each hole.
  5. Next, drill a hole in the rubber end caps depending on the thickness of the tubes. Make sure to drill the hole in that position according to the height of the water level you prefer. The water level should be at the bottom of the roots.
  6. Fill the net pots with a growing media of your choice and put the seeds 1/3-inch deep inside it. Then fit the net pots into the holes of the PVC pipe.
  7. Now, place the PVC pipe on the sawhorses and make sure it is placed in a slightly sloped angle. Place the reservoir under the sloped pipe and between the two sawhorses.
  8. Cover the edges of the pipe with the rubber end caps and seal them with the hose clamps.
  9. Put the tube of the water pump into the upper end of the pipe (into the left rubber end cap) to supply the nutrient solution into the pipe. Next, fit the one end of the drain tube into the lower end of the pipe (right end cap) and the other end of the tube should pass through the top drain hole of the reservoir and should reach the bottom of it.
  10. Fill the reservoir with water and nutrients, and then turn on the water pumpand the air pump.

You can try out building this cheap hydroponic system for weed. Though this method relatively requires some more materials, your right plan to purchase them make the whole system affordable.

3) How to Build a Flood and Drain Hydroponic System?

The flood and drain system is also known as EBB and Flow indoor hydroponic system. This is the best hydroponic system for vegetables like tomatoes or other small vegetables.In this system, the nutrient solution is pumped into the grow tray with the help of a water pump connected to a timer.

The growing tray is flooded with the nutrient solution and when the water pump turns off, the nutrient solution is drained back to the reservoir that holds the solution.This process is done a few times depending on the type, size, and growth stage of the plant.

The Materials Required:

  • A medium-sized plastic grow tray.
  • A Reservoir
  • A Timer
  • A water pump
  • Nutrients
  • Growing media (Rockwool/Coconut Coir)
  • Fill and drain nozzles
  • Plastic tubes
  • Flower pots
  • Drill Machine
  • Knife


  1. Make a hole at the side of the reservoir for the power cord of the water pump.
  2. Next, make two holes in the growing tray for the fill and drain nozzles. Install the nozzles on the tray, and fit them properly, to prevent leakage. Make sure to set the drain nozzle to the height of the water level you want for the plants.
  3. Fill the pots with growing media of your choice and put the seedlings in it.
  4. Connect the tube of the water pump to the fill nozzle and attach a tube to the drain nozzle and place the other end of the tube at the bottom of the reservoir.
  5. Fill the reservoir with water and nutrients.
  6. Put the pots on the growing tray and place it at the top of the reservoir.
  7. Set the water pump with the timer for periodic watering and then turn it on.

Final Thoughts

Hydroponic system is the best way to grow plants as they are quite easy to build and requires less maintenance. The only requirement is to feed the plants with oxygenated nutrient solutions, timely, for them to survive. As a beginner, you can try out the most common DWC hydroponic system to grow your plants.

It won’t cost you much and it takes less effort to build this hydroponic system. I hope this article has helped you in learning how to build a cheap hydroponic system for the beautiful plants you love.

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