French Drain Installation

Spring is on the way, and as snow begins to melt, drainage problems may make themselves evident. One of the simplest ways to correct the issue is through installing a French drain.   This type of drainage system is one of the simplest options, won’t impact your landscape design and can be done by some homeowners, although for large and complex areas it may be best to hire a professional landscape excavator.


The Trench:   The first step is to dig a trench. In most cases, it should be between 8 and 12 inches deep and 5 or 6 inches wide.

Grade:   In order for water to flow correctly and in the right direction, the slope needs to be at least .5 percent. However, 1 or 2 percent is better in most cases.

Gravel:   Fill the trench with .5 to 1 inch size gravel. There should be a few inches between the top of the gravel and the surface.

Sand:   Spread three to four inches of course sand over the gravel. This provides turf a place to take root while allowing proper water drainage.

Turf:   Lastly, you can either add seeds to the sand, or allow naturally spreading turf to fill in the gap. If you plan on using sod on the the area, wash the roots to get rid of fine soil. This will prevent the sand from being contaminated.

Adding Drain Pipe

In some cases, you may want to add a drain pipe to the trench. Usually, four to six inch pipes are installed in these types of trenches.  To install the pipe, add an inch or two of gravel, set the pipe on it and surround it with gravel.

The pipe should be perforated and wrapped in protective filter fabric. It should also be surrounded by at least an inch of gravel on each side.

Complex Systems

If you need multiple drainage lines, it’s best to get a professional involved who is experienced in landscape excavation. If your property needs multiple grades, it’s essential to have the right pipe sizes and measurements for proper drainage.

Although water damage on your property can be difficult to repair, the best way to deal with it is to prevent it through such drainage solutions as this.  There are a variety of other solutions available as well – talk to a professional landscape designer experienced in water management.