How to Design a French Drain


A French drain is a simple but effective way to move standing water, whether it's against a house or in a boggy area of the yard. Water collects in a trench and is diverted through a pipe underground. The lower end of the pipe can be left exposed -- if your yard slopes downward to a short wall next to the driveway, you can extend the pipe through the wall, so that the water drains out. It doesn't have to be exposed. The water can simply settle into the earth, underground, at the end of the drain.

Things You'll Need

  • Stakes and string
  • Shovel, ditch witch or bobcat
  • Gravel
  • Perforated pipe
  • Filter fabric
  • Top soil
  • Stake the outline of the French drain. It should run away from buildings and have a slight downward slope.

  • Dig the trench. If the French drain is moving water away from a house, dig a six-foot-deep trench if the house has a basement. If there is no basement, or if the drain is not intended to move water away from a building, the trench only needs to be two feet deep.

  • Put a two-inch layer of gravel in the bottom of the trench. Smooth it flat.

  • Lay perforated pipe the length of the drain. Cover it with one foot of gravel if the trench is two feet deep. Cover it with five feet of gravel if you're installing a drain that's six feet deep.

  • Cover the gravel with filter fabric. Filter fabric will keep out small bits of organic material that could clog the drain.

  • Use topsoil to fill the trench to the height of the surrounding area. Let the soil settle for a week, add more soil if needed and then cover with grass.

Tips & Warnings

  • Multiple interconnected trenches can drain water away from different sides of the building. Filter fabric and perforated pipe are available at home improvement stores. Make a simple French drain by filling a trench to the top with smooth river rocks.

Related Searches


  • Photo Credit Indiewench/
Promoted By Zergnet



You May Also Like

  • How to Seal for Radon With a French Drain

    Radon, an odorless, colorless, radioactive gas, is a major cause of lung cancer. Radon may seep into a building through cracks or...

  • How to Install Footing Drains

    Footing drains, also known as drain tile, are imperative in areas where the ground saturates during any time of the year, particularly...

  • How to Plan Landscape Drainage

    Landscaping a residential property requires careful consideration of the types of plants and their requirements, as well as the natural features of...

  • How to Install an Interior French Drain

    Periodic wet basements with an elevated water table signal the need for action to protect your property and maintain a dry basement....

  • How to Design a Barn Drainage System

    Designing an effective drainage system for a barn is crucial. Having an effective drainage system allows you to enjoy your barn and...

  • How to Create a French Drain System

    A French drain is a way to manipulate water movement through your property, keeping the water from pooling around low spots and...

  • How Effective Is a French Drain?

    French drains are perforated pipes laid in a gravel bed, usually intended to shunt water away from house foundations. When properly installed,...

  • Size & Type of Gravel for a French Drain

    A French drain offers a gravity-assisted means of keeping the yard free from excess moisture. While several sizes and types of gravel...

  • Alternatives to a French Drain

    Many homeowners have drainage issues that cause problems with their landscaping and lawn. A common method to solve landscaping problems is a...

Related Searches

Check It Out

22 DIY Ways to Update Your Home on a Small Budget

Is DIY in your DNA? Become part of our maker community.
Submit Your Work!