Creative Sources - Grow and Reservoir Trays

Most hydroponists are creative, do-it-yourself gardeners who like to develop their own hydroponic garden systems in the shape, design and size of their choosing using materials that are readily available from a variety of sources (many of which are non-gardening sources).  The purpose of this section is to help in that endeavor by offering ideas for sources available on the internet or in your local builder supply or nursery.

While strolling through my local builder supply store I came across several items that could be used for growing trays or nutrient reservoirs. Examples are 1) an old wheel barrow, 2) 5 gal paint buckets 3) waste paper baskets, 4) shallow trash cans, 5) cement mix containers, 6) a mortar box 32" by 60" by 11" made of very sturdy plastic (ideal gravel grow bed - right size, strength, etc.). Another ideal gravel grow bed is a combination hard plastic kids wading pool and sand box. In another store I found pond liners (once again it is ideal for a gravel garden) and plastic pots that nest together (ideal for a wick garden). Toy stores and pet stores may have ideal containers for your garden.

Plan ahead. See the E-Book section on
Hydroponic Vegetable Gardening Plans Made Easy for instructions on how to incorporate these materials into your hydroponic garden system. Especially important are 1) use of gravity flow, 2) access to the nutrient reservoir for pump servicing, cleaning, checking nutrient levels and adding nutrients, 3) support for the grow bed to carry the combined weight of the media and nutrient, 4) system to deliver nutrient from the reservoir to the grow bed, and 5) overflow and control of the nutrient level in the grow bed while flooding and return to the reservoir.

Although hydroponic information, nutrients, Hydroton grow media and some systems components are available for purchase through us,  the items listed below must be purchased from outside sources. By purchasing these items from outside sources you will save by buying direct and avoid double shipping charges.

Information regarding these items are available on the internet - links provided when available. Some are available for purchase on the internet and some are available at local stores.

Be creative. Good Luck

Grow Beds and Nutrient Reservoirs:    





MacCourt Products Inc. makes heavy duty lawn ponds out of HDPE (high density polyethylene), which is chemically inert and UV stabilized. Most of their ponds make perfect hydroponic grow bed and nutrient reservoir trays. Visit the MacCourt home page for more information. They don't sell direct, but if you call 800-552-5473 they will advise you on local retail sources and answer questions.

Grow Beds - Any pond will work, however, the ideal depth is 6" to 8" for the gravel of other media to promote proper root development. It is ok if the pond is deeper, you may merely fill it up with gravel (expensive) or use Styrofoam blocks or other suitable materials in the bottom to take up some of the excess space. Do not use wood or any other material which will degrade organically. The plastic is very sturdy, but will stretch out of shape over time unless the bottom is well supported. If stacked on top of the nutrient reservoir, use waterproofed wood slats for support. To maintain reservoir container integrity the support table should be independent of the nutrient reservoir.

Nutrient Reservoirs - Use any appropriate pond or other container that is at least equal in volume to the grow bed. For servicing access, the reservoir should be larger or offset from the grow bed allowing about 6 inches of access. Cover the opening with any opaque material to prevent light from entering the reservoir. This controls algae growth.

Fittings - These fittings are available for purchase in a kit form. The fill/drain fitting (left) is mounted in the bottom of the grow bed, near the edge for servicing. It is connected to the pump with 1/2" tubing. When the pump is running the grow bed is filling and when the pump is off it allows the grow bed to empty back through the pump. The overflow fitting is also mounted in the bottom of the grow bed and controls the maximum level of nutrient in the grow bed, which should be about 1/2" below the surface level of the media.


IP Woody's Creative Woodworks makes raised garden bed kits from cedar wood in many sizes and shapes. With a few modifications they are perfect for hydroponics and will enhance your total landscape.

Modifications - Purchase a complete cedar kit (one on two board height). Construct a bottom by cutting out the same shape from 3/4" plywood. You can add legs so that the entire bed is elevated to waist level. Use a low level nutrient reservoir of plastic material (see US Plastics Corp. above) inserted under or near the grow bed. Be sure you have a service opening and that the volume is at least equal to the grow bed.

To seal the grow bed and make is water proof, use either vinyl pool liner or fiberglass matting and resin. See Hydroponic Garden Plans Made Easy section for building a two box system from scratch for ideas for sealing.

Use the fitting kit (#5231 or #7231) as described above under MacCourt Products or build an overflow/drain system as described in the Hydroponic Garden Plans Made Easy.

Links for more information and ordering are:
One Board Raised Bed 5 1/2" Height
Two Board Raised Bed 11" Height

Or visit the Cedar Raised Garden Beds home page and search for other appropriate options and ideas.



US Plastics Corp is an ideal source for a variety for plastic parts which are most appropriate for use as grow beds or nutrient reservoirs. Also, available are fittings for connecting them together or with pumps, etc. and tubing. All are very sturdy and carry the Rubbermaid brand name. They may be purchase from a local store carrying the Rubbermaid brand or ordered on-line using the appropriate link below:

7 Gal Pan & Lid - Use two of these: one for the nutrient reservoir (with lid) and one for the grow bed stacked on top of the reservoir. It is ideal for either a wick system or a very small ebb & flow (gravel) system.

2 Gal Bucket - Two of these are perfect for a small wick garden. Each bucket is 9 3/8" high and 9 1/4" in diameter (perfect dimensions - not too deep for the grow bed) and they nest well together. If you need more room in the reservoir, prop it up with a Styrofoam block.

Cross Stack Containers - These are sturdy containers 15 1/2" by 25" by 8 3/4" deep (perfect for a small gravel system). The cross stacking provides access to the nutrient reservoir for servicing the pump, etc. Several can be used as grow beds connected together with tubing requiring only one fill/overflow/drain system, one pump and one large nutrient reservoir - see instructions.





Basics - Wick - Water - Gravel - Creative Sources 

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