How To Do Hydroponics On A Budget

How To Do Hydroponics On A Budget

Is growing plants with hydroponics on a budget possible? Here lies the answer. Growing plants hydroponically is a great way to save money and space. It’s often cheaper and more efficient than growing your greens in soil. But how is this possible? When we think about the equipment you will need for getting started with soilless gardening, such as pumps or lights, may lead many people intimidated by everything they need before starting.

The truth is that if you have basic knowledge of what hydro means (water culture), then everything will become accessible because there isn’t much technical know-how required. All you have to do is to gather all the components and get going.

Further along, we will tell you how to start your hydroponics system with easy to assemble and affordable components. But firstly, you must understand all the parts of a hydroponics system.

The main components for hydroponics on a budget are:

  • Grow Tray
  • Nutrient Reservoir
  • Nutrients
  • Delivery system
  • Airstone
  • Submersible pump
  • Plant support
  • Timer

Now, let’s roll.

hydroponic system

Grow Tray

The first component is the grow tray. It is where the roots of your plant live. The size will depend on what you intend to grow. But it should be large enough to accommodate both long and short-term growth requirements for plants in hydroponic systems. 

Furthermore, it is suggested that when building hydroponics on a budget, do not think of a fancy or costly grow tray. All you need are some containers; even better, recycled materials. Or you can get creative with an old ice chest or child’s wading pool by turning it into an indoor garden that will thrive year-round in any climate conditions.

Ensure that the container for your plants is leak-proof and free of hazardous chemicals like weed killers or paint because these can get into their roots and kill them. Also, see that the container is opaque so that excess light doesn’t harm them over time.

There is another option—storage bins!

Plastic storage bins are a popular choice for many DIY enthusiasts. These inexpensive and easy-to-find items come in different sizes, so you’re guaranteed to find one that fits your needs perfectly! The best part? They’ll block out light which helps prevent algae growth while providing nutrients for plants like hydroponic tomatoes or eggplant.

Five-gallon buckets are another excellent option for developing your hydroponics on a budget due to their affordability and ability to hold large quantities without too much difficulty.

Nutrient Reservoir

The nutrient reservoir is a map for your plants. It’s the place where you keep all their nutrients before feeding them so they can grow healthy and strong. 

To begin with, you need a container to hold your plant’s nutrient solution. A lot of people use old fish tanks or large plastic containers that can hold sufficient water. Lightproof, plastic, or glass will work best with the right color coatings on them so that microbes do not grow and ruin everything.

Next, make sure you have room for expansion because as plants get bigger, they need more nutrients than smaller ones. Or you can even consider buying online; many garden stores put up their old stuff on sale from time to time. Good for enthusiasts like you who are going after hydroponics on a budget.

Lastly, the nutrient reservoir mustn’t be made from anything metallic to grow healthy and strong plants. This can introduce harmful elements into your soil which cause damage to the stems or leaves of a plant in an instant.


You don’t need to give your hydroponic plants soil because they will have access to all the nutrients their roots need. Instead, you restrict them by providing only water and nutrient-rich salts for growth in a container system–a process called “hydro” or horticulture farming.

Then, what about nutrients? Hydroponics supply stores offer a variety of nutrients, some that are specialized, and others that can be used for any hydroponic setup. These may end up costing you quite the bill. But luckily, there is an alternative.

You can make your nutrient solution by adding two teaspoons of water-soluble fertilizer, one teaspoon of Epsom salts, and stirring until solids dissolve. Pour it into the nutrient reservoir. And voila! Your cost-efficient nutrient solution for your hydroponics on a budget is ready.

Note that some manufacturers sell affordable hydroponic nutrients; these are in dry form. Liquid nutrients are 90% water and 10% nutrients; they occupy space and cost more due to shipping. Bulk purchase of hydroponic nutrients can be as low as 1.6 cents per gallon, and you may find some products for sale at a lower cost than that. Look for deals.

ebb and flow

Delivery System

The grow tray and nutrient reservoir are usually kept in separate compartments. The plants need access to the solution throughout their life cycle, so they’re fed by way of feeding tubes which run like vines from one side (the top) down into its roots.

The delivery system is the one that finally brings all your nutrients from start to finish. The nutrient solution gets delivered in the grow tray, then moved to where you need it most: your grow tray.

You can employ standard PVC tubing and connectors as delivery systems for hydroponics on a budget. With these tubes, you can build a robust delivery system on your own.


To create the best possible conditions for growing plants, it is essential that you choose light fixtures carefully. For instance, if your garden must be lit during winter months when natural sunlight cannot reach it or if there are too many obstacles in front of the windows, then high-intensity hood fluorescents with long stems and large reflectors will work well. 

Fluorescent artificial grow lights have been around for years, and they are economical for building your hydroponics on a budget. These cool bulbs can be placed very close to the top of plants without any fear of burning them. T5 is another economical option. 

The light from T5 tubes covers a wide range of colours, which you can adjust by using different colour temperatures. There are also 3 outputs for these bulbs – NO (normal), HO(high), and VHO(very high).

Hydroponics LED Light


An airstone is a great feature that can be added to your hydroponic system. Airstone creates gurgling noises, which cause nearby water molecules to shake slightly, creating more surface area for gas exchange between air and nutrients/water mixture inside container or plant roots.

Generally, you would need at least two different sizes: one small should go under smaller plants, while a more significant size should cover heavier crops like hydroponic tomatoes. There is an inexpensive way to get your hands on air stones. Go for DIY. Ask Google or find some Youtube videos for developing hydroponics on a budget.

Submersible pump

The pumps in the hydroponic systems move water from its container through a set-up, keeping everything healthy and happy. This proves useful when you don’t have time to tend the plants yourself or forget them altogether.

A submersible pump is the only equipment that will be found at an affordable price in any garden supply store or hydroponics shop. So it’s one of those “must-have” items for anyone with ambitions about growing their food at home.

Plant Support

Another component that doesn’t cause a hole when building hydroponics on a budget. Pierce plastic food-grade containers and use them to hold your plants in the hydroponic system. Net pots are readily available for a low cost. Still, they don’t offer any support or durability, so you may need multiple nets per pot depending on how many roots that particular plant has.

To keep plants upright within the net pots, use sterilized pea gravel or coconut coir. These substances are also reusable after boiling to make them even more affordable.


The last component is the timer. It is important to use a timer when you are using artificial lights instead of natural sunlight. Doing so can help maintain off/on time for your light fixtures and various systems such as an air conditioning system, irrigation, etc. 

However, some aeroponic row systems may require individual timers not included with one package deal from hardware stores. Artificial lights come with a timer. If you’re using artificial light instead of natural sunlight, this is an essential tool for maintaining the timing of your system. 

You can set up different timers depending on what type of lighting method you need—such as an hour ahead versus two hours apart from daylight saving time and power. This implies more savings, suitable for your successful hydroponics on a budget project.

Hydroponics At Home

Best Hydroponics System On A Budget: Our Suggestion

Our recommendation on a budget-friendly hydroponics system to use would be the DWC or Deep Water Culture System. The system is a relatively simple, cheap-to-build hydroponic gardening method that doesn’t use moving parts or recirculating water. The only thing you have to do for this type of setup is the tank? To start, you can buy a small container and then add more as your budget permits. With this, you can save money and grow plants in your small hydroponics system.

Summing Up

There are many ways to grow plants without soil. You can use hydroponics, aeroponics, or aquaponics systems. Hydroponic systems can be expensive, but they don’t have to be prohibitively so. It turns out there are plenty of ways to get started with hydroponics without spending too much money upfront—which means more time spent growing fresh produce instead of shopping for them. And who doesn’t love that idea?

If you’re looking to build inexpensive hydroponics or want more information on how it works, this article should have answered some of your questions. We hope that you found the information to build hydroponics on a budget in this blog post helpful.