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French Drain Design - An Easy DIY Installation Process Explained

French Drain Design
There are several French drain designs that you can choose from for your yard or basement. In this article we are going to discuss designs of French drain.
Gardenerdy Staff
Last Updated: Apr 22, 2018
To keep your property in the best condition, you need a good drainage solution. A French drain is such a system that works effectively in removing water in yards and gardens that are prone to water logging. If your property is located in an area which is at a lower elevation than your neighbors, then you must have faced water logging in your yard and garden. It is very essential to nip this problem in the bud, otherwise it can cause structural damage or foundation damage to your house. Wondering what is a French drain and how they work? A French drain is in essence just a trench that is filled up with gravel, so that surface water can percolate through the gravel. The gravel is usually wrapped in a piece of landscape fabric which is then topped with sand. Nowadays, modern French drain designs consist of drain pipes that are installed deep inside trenches in addition to gravel. A French drain is the best landscape drainage solution. Here we are going to discuss French drain installation in your yard.

Installing French Drain

Before discussing how to build a French drain in your yard, you need to have a good French drain design. You need to design the French drain in such a way that the water is diverted from the house and it flows downwards. You also need to plan where the water from the drain will ultimately be re routed. Finding a proper exit point for the water is very important as the success of your drainage system depends on it. A dry well installed at one end of the yard or even a rain garden works well. Do not let the water flow outside into the neighbor's yard or the municipal drain. For a French drain to work, it needs to have a slope of at least 1 inch for every 8 feet of length. Once you have the design detail finalized it is time to mark the area you are going to dig up. You can choose to install a traditional French drain without pipes or the modern version. For effective drainage, it is best to install French drains with PVC pipes since it gives water an unhindered path to flow. Here we are going to give you step by step instructions for installing French drain.
  • With a shovel, dig the ground to a depth of 2 feet. The trench should be about 6 inches in width.
  • Once you are done digging the trenches, lay out the PVC pipes on the ground.
  • Make some holes at every 2 inch intervals on one side of the PVC pipes with a drill.
  • Line the trench with landscape fabric and then place the pipes, with their drilled holes facing downwards into the trench. It is very important that the holes in the pipe are oriented downwards on the ground.
  • After you have laid the pipes in the trenches, you need to fill the trench with round gravels up to a depth of one inch. Make sure that the gravels are round or it might puncture the PVC pipes which will lead to flooding.
  • Once you are done lining the French drain with the gravel, cover the gravel with the landscape fabric. This will ensure that weeds and debris do not get inside the pipe.
  • Finally cover the landscape fabric with a layer of sand and soil.
This is how you install a French drain. The best French drain design is one that takes care of redirecting both sub surface water as well as standing water on the ground. When designing a French drain for drainage solution make sure that the water exits from the drain into the lowest point of the yard. While designing a French drain for your yard, make sure that the gravel you use for lining the trench is highly porous. This will allow water to percolate better through the soil and keep your yard dry.