French Drain Installation

A French drain is used to direct standing or excess water away from an undesirable place. They were used mostly to irrigate fields in the early days of American farming. The construction of a French drain is simple; it consists of a trench that slops down into a rain barrel or a less troubling area of the property. A specialty pipe is laid in the trench and then covered with gravel. The water follows the drain down the slope and empties to where the property owner wants it. Some homeowners take advantage of the excess water and plant water loving plants in the new location.

How do I Install a French Drain?

  1. The first step is to access your situation and determine if you really need a French drain. Since the work involves creating a slop and minor calculating to get the best result a professional landscaper would be the best choice to do the work. If water is pooling up around your home’s foundation or an area of your property is always wet, then a French drain is a good idea.
  1. Another argument for calling a professional is that a professional landscaper in your area will be familiar with the building codes and laws of your area. A French drain will change the landscape drastically. This may benefit you, but not your neighbor. Before you dig anything check with your local government to make sure nothing is going to come back to bite you.
  1. Measure how far you want the drain to run and mark the beginning and the end with two stakes. Tie a string between the two points so you can see your progress as you dig. It is important the whole process has been planned before you even consider digging. An effective French drain needs to slop downward 1 foot per 100 feet of the trench. The string helps the digger gage if they are creating the right grade for the drain.
  1. As you dig the trench must get slightly deeper.
  1. Next line the trench with specialty landscaping fabric. This material will allow water to flow out and keep dirt out of the drain system.
  1. Then fill the trench with gravel. Please note this should be “clean” rock not stuff you dig up from a quarry. This rock should be landscaping quality. This will help you keep dirt and roots out of your drain. You want to create a 2 inch layer of rock.
  1. Then lay the pipe down in the trench.
  1. Pin the pipe in place with a “cap layer” of rock, and make sure the pipe stays square in the middle of the trench.
  1. Wrap the pipe with the landscaping material and place the dug up earth back in place over the trench.

French drains are useful irrigation tools that help a homeowner protect their foundations and property. The design looks simple, but the planning of a French drain takes time and effort. If you don’t have much experience with landscaping or drains in general a professional is the best option. Over time a French drain will blend in with your landscape and offer an invaluable service to your property.