Hydroponic Garden

Length of Project:
Project theme:
Suitable for grades:
Tools & Materials
Material List
  • aquarium/pond pump, 4' vertical lift and adjustable flow rate
  • 3' - 2" PVC schedule 40 pipe
  • two 2" x 1 1/2" flexible couplings (Cremco, Fernco, or similar)
  • two 1 1/2" x 1/2" FIP ABS dishwasher bushings
  • thread seal tape (Teflon)
  • two 1/2” MIP x 1/2” barb adapters
  • 6' (minimum) 1/2" plastic tubing
  • three 1/2" hose clamps
  • Plastic tote or bucket (~5 gallons)
  • ~2' - 1/2" foam pipe insulation
  • one 2" pipe strap
  • two 1" wood screws
  • ~1"x1"x6" scrap wood
  • ~2’ - ½" foam pipe insulation
  • water or hydroponic nutrient solution
Tool list
  • safety glasses
  • protective gloves
  • ear protection
  • measuring tape
  • felt pen
  • pipe cutter (2" PVC cutting capacity)
  • vise or clamp
  • file or coarse sandpaper and block
  • hand drill
  • 1" hole saw and arbour
  • 1/8" twist bit
  • flathead screwdriver
  • hacksaw
  • 5/8" nut driver
  • adjustable crescent wrench
  • scissors
  • level
  • screwdriver

    Make the PVC pipe component

  1. Use a measuring tape and felt pen to measure and mark a 3’ length of 2” PVC pipe.
  2. Secure the pipe with a vise (or similar). If using a pipe cutter, tighten the blade on the mark. If using a hacksaw, cut through the pipe at the mark and go to step 4.
  3. Turn the pipe cutter once around the pipe, then tighten the blade down again. Repeat this step until the pipe is cut through.
  4. Use a file (or a sanding block with coarse sandpaper) to smooth the ends of the pipe, working at a 45° angle to the pipe edge.
  5. Use the edge of a table as a straight edge, and draw a line down the length of the pipe with the felt pen.
  6. Make a dot with the felt pen every 3 ½" along this line; these will indicate where to drill the holes for your plants.
  7. Assemble the drill with the arbour, 1/8” drill bit, and 1” hole saw.
  8. Put on your gloves, eyewear, and ear protection. Secure the pipe in a vise or jig. Line the hole saw up over your first mark and drill down slowly and vertically. Stop as soon as the hole saw has gone through the first side of the pipe so you don‘t poke through and damage the bottom of the pipe.
  9. Unplug the drill or remove the battery, then use the screwdriver to remove the 1” puck of PVC you just drilled out.
  10. Reposition your pipe in the vise and repeat the previous two steps for each mark along your pipe. Clear the pipe of all shavings when you are done.
  11. Push a 2" x 1 ½" flexile coupling onto each end of your pipe, and secure by tightening the large hose clamps on the couplings with a nut driver or flathead screw driver.
  12. Push a dishwasher bushing into the end of each flexible coupling and secure by tightening the small hose clamps.
  13. Wrap about 2 layers of thread seal tape onto the threaded portion of each of the 1/2” MIP x 1/2” barb adapters.
  14. Thread the barb adapters into the dishwasher bushings and tighten with a crescent wrench.
  15. Use scissors to cut your ½" tubing in half (so you have two 3’ pieces).
  16. Thread a hose clamp onto one piece of tubing, and push the end of the tubing over one of the barb adapters as far as you can. Tighten the hose clamp over the tubing to secure it in place.
  17. Repeat the previous step with the second piece of tubing on the other barb adapter.
  18. Thread another hose clamp onto the free end of one of the tubes, then push the tubing over the aquarium pump outlet. Gently tighten the hose clamp to secure.
  19. Place the free end of the ½" tubing into the bucket to complete the drainage.
  20. Choose a surface or structure to place your garden onto, close enough to an outlet so you can plug in your pump. Use a bubble level to make sure the surface is level.
  21. Place the end of your garden pipe that is attached to the pump onto the middle of the scrap of wood. Place the 2” pipe strap over the PVC and secure it to the scrap of wood with the screwdriver and screws.
  22. Fill your bucket with your solution, plug in your pump, and lower it into the bucket.
  23. Turn on the pump. Adjust the flow rate and/or the height of the pipe ends as needed until the water is flowing through your pipe without splashing out the plant holes. You may have to place thin scraps of wood or objects under either end of the pipe to achieve this.
  24. Prepare your hydroponic garden for seedlings:

  25. Use scissors to chop your foam pipe insulation into 1 ½" lengths. Cut a ~1” piece out of each ring and place the small piece in the centre of the large piece.
  26. Nestle a little seedling into the centre space (the orange dot in the diagram), then squeeze the ring closed. Stuff this into your 1” pipe hole, roots dangling into the water below.
Extension Challenges
  1. Try hooking up multiple garden pipes to make a living wall: attach the end of one to the start of another by connecting them with ½" tubing. Secure the pipes to a large piece of plywood using pipe straps. Make sure you test it first to make sure the pipes are at an appropriate angle for water to flow through the system. Connect the final pipe end back to the bucket of solution.
  2. Read up on how to use the water from a fresh water aquarium (with fish!) to circulate through your plant garden.
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