How to Design a Barn Drainage System

Proper drainage is crucial to your barn.
Proper drainage is crucial to your barn. (Image: barn 12 image by michael langley from

Designing an effective drainage system for a barn is crucial. Having an effective drainage system allows you to enjoy your barn and allows it to be functional for a long period of time. Having an ineffective drainage system leads to flooding, destroying structural materials, feed, hay and possessions. It also ruins the longevity of the barn and may endanger the health of your livestock. In your planning consider the location of your barn, weather patterns for the area and types of drainage.

Survey your land for a place for your barn. It is best to pick a flat area which is at a higher point on your property. By having the barn higher on your property you can divert the water away from the structure.

Consider the weather patterns for your area. Think about how much rainfall you get a year. If your area receives a lot a rainfall regularly, you may want to consider having a pond or a water holding area to which the water can be diverted.

Look at the type of soil is in your area. Fine soils, such as clays, saturate more quickly than other soils. This soil can require having additional drainage pipes that lay perpendicular to the barn and run out away from the barn. The pipes need to be 18 inches under the ground surrounded by 3/4-inch clean stone. These pipes will need to connect to the French drain that you will put in. Or you may need to do some excavating to take away the saturated soil and replace it with a type that doesn't saturate quickly.

Slope the ground away from the barn. The barn should be the highest point and all the land around should be sloping away at about a 5 percent slope so that the water drains away from the barn. Install a French drain about 30 feet on one side of the barn to catch the draining water. This French drain can lead into a water holding area or let water out far from the barn. If your area has a significant amount of rainfall you may need two French drains, one on each side.

Connect all rain gutters into a pipe that is laid underground. The pipe should be at least 18 inches underground and be surrounded by 3/4-inch clean stone (sometimes called 2b). Cover with at least 12 inches of dirt. Flexible pipe is recommended. Connect this pipe to the French drain.

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