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What Is A French Drain?

by | Sep 20, 2021

Have you been finding permanent damp spots on your lawn? Find that you always have water in your basement after you have rainstorms? If you’re looking for a solution that won’t take too much effort and is a permanent solution for your issues then we’ve got the answer. Although French drains may sound fancy, we promise they’re not as fancy as you think. A French drain is simply a ditch in the ground that’s inserted with a pipe underneath and then gravel covers it. It may be stressful that your lawn is damp and seem like a big project to install a French drain but we promise it’s not as difficult as it seems. In this article, we’ll talk about what a French drain is and why it’s perfect for you and your lawn.

French Drain InstallationWhat Is A French Drain and Why Do You Need It?

It may sound fancy, but in reality, it’s not as elegant as it sounds or as big of a deal to have it installed as you think it is. It’s not as sophisticated as you think, merely a ditch with gravel and a pipe running underneath it. The pipe works to take away the water that stays in damp spots on your lawn and carry them away so that they drain out properly. This takes care of damp spots on your lawn or on spots where water may start to build up. The pipe is hidden with gravel or rocks on top and they can add an appeal to your lawn.

French drains are also very helpful when it comes to draining water that may leak to your basement through your foundation. In these cases, water presses against the foundation of your home and eventually leaks into the basement. But when you have a French drain, the water can be redirected to a different location with the pipes installed. However, if it seems that even with a French drain it seems that water is still entering your basement you may want to consider installing an indoor French drain. If there’s still water entering your basement with adequate drainage, consider installing a French drain through your basement to solve your issues.

How To Install A French Drain

Installing a French drain may seem like a complicated task, but it’s easy enough that you’ll be able to tackle it on your own if you wish. We always recommend hiring experts for any large jobs for your lawn so that there’s no fear of anything going wrong, but it is possible to do it on your own if you need to. If you’ve decided not to involve the professionals then here’s the base of installing your French drain and how you can do it on your own.

  • Pick a location. The first step is to look around your property and find where it’s necessary to install a French drain. You want to look for where water may be pooling or where it builds up after a heavy rainstorm. It’s important to remember that you do not want to drain onto a neighbor’s property and that you mark the location where the trench will flow with red flags or stakes. You have to know where to divert the water drainage, whether tapping into existing drainage or running it off to the roadside curb if that’s easier for you.
  • Start digging the trench. Typically the next step is to start digging a trench with the trench going in the slope in the direction that you need it to. You must have thoroughly assessed the property that you’ve chosen before you start digging. You want to be aware that there are no underground pipes underneath or utility lines. If you’re attempting this project on your own you can either use a shovel or you may want to consider using a trencher rental.
  • Start filling the trench. The third step is to start filling the trench with gravel bedding. Before this, you want to line the trench with a filter fabric that will be sure to keep tree roots and dirt out of the trench. You want to pour about 3 inches of gravel bedding into the trench. This will set the bedding for the drainage pipes in your French drain.
  • Hook up your pipe connections. Now it’s time to start with the process that will help with draining your property of extra water. This is the most important step so you want to make sure that it’s done properly and that you know what you’re doing. Hook up all your pipe connections and secure as many fittings as are necessary to ensure that the water will drain from the start of the drench to the outage.
  • Put the pipe in the trench. Now that you have all the pipes connected and know that it will drain well you can lay it in the trench. Lay the connected pipes on top of the gravel bedding and make sure that everything looks as it should. Pour water through the intel grate and ensure that it flows through smoothie to the proper drainage.
  • Cover the pipes. You’ll take more of your gravel bedding and put it on top of the pipes along with more filter fabric. You want to keep the gravel below the ground level and only add the filter fabric if you feel that it needs an extra layer of protection. Some French drains may seem strong enough that they don’t need it and, in that case, you can leave the fabric filter off.
  • Use topsoil. The last step is to fully cover the gravel with topsoil. Fill it with topsoil and then make sure that it’s compacted so that it’s fully covered. This will make the French drain nearly invisible and ensure proper drainage flow through your property. Make sure that the topsoil is strong compact so that there’s no fear of stones falling in.

Summing It Up

A French drain is essential to any homeowner that has noticed that there seems to be water pooling in their yard or basement. Usually, this means that you need proper drainage so that water can flow away from the source. If this is your wish then it’s as simple as installing a French drain which may sound complicated but it truly is an easy process. Above we explain the process and how you can install a French drain on your own. The important thing to remember is that, just as other parts of your lawn do, your French drain will need ongoing maintenance. You should regularly inspect it and clean it as needed so that you always have proper drainage! If you’re looking for French drain installation and would like to leave it to the professionals, give us a call for a quote!


Robert Markley

Robert Markley is a licensed Landscape Architect with over 20 years of experience working with clients to provide excellence in landscape design, project management, and installation services. He also possesses a rare combination of skills as a horticulturist, licensed Landscape Contractor, and licensed Irrigation Contractor, equipping him to provide a comprehensive and practical approach to any project, big or small. He takes pride in helping our clients envision and create amazing outdoor spaces that are enjoyed now and for years to come.

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