After a storm, if rainwater stagnates in your yard for several days, it's time to investigate the need for a French drain. French drains are subterranean ditches that collect and draw away water to prevent drainage problems in athletic fields, parks, yards or gardens.
Plant roots need to breathe, and standing water can drown the roots. Modern, effective French drains are composed of an underground, perforated drain pipe buried in an 8- to 12-inch-wide trench filled with gravel. The water seeps down into the pipe and around the gravel and drains away from the fragile roots. A permit to construct a French drain may or may not be required, depending on the regulations in your municipality.
Whom to Call
If you've hired a professional contractor to construct your French drain, he will likely take care of any necessary permits. However, it's never a bad idea to check this on your own--especially if you're doing the job yourself. Depending upon the size of your town, such permits may be handled either by city or county offices. When you call, explain that you want to inquire about required permits for digging in your yard, and you should be transferred to the appropriate department for guidance.
Call 811 to Locate Utility Lines
Before digging in your yard, call 811. This exchange is a federally mandated national number that was established to prevent unsafe digging in areas where underground utility lines exist. The call center will advise you about how to submit a local request to have the utility lines located--for free.