How to Install a French Drain

Drainage is important when it comes to the home. If water is not taken away from the property effectively, then it can lead to a whole multitude of issues ranging from rising damp to the weakening of the foundations and freestanding water in the basement.

The easiest way to ensure that you don’t suffer from water pooling at lower levels is to install French drains. These are simple yet effective channels that will quickly remove any standing water and prevent damage occurring in your home and garden. So how do you install a French drain?

To begin with, you will need a few simple tools, such as a shovel, gravel, landscaping fabric and topsoil for covering over the drain.

Step One:

Determine where you will have the water drain away too. Ensure that it does not encroach onto a neighbors property. You will need the drain to be on a downward slope for it to work properly. A slope that drops 6″ for every 50 feet ensure the best result. Mark the determined route with some spray paint.

Step Two:

Now you have your route planned, the next step is to start digging out the trench along the painted line. Ideally, you want this to be around 8 inches wide and no deeper than the nearest building foundation. Ensure that the trench slowly lowers as you progress to help carry the water away with ease.

Step Three:

Line the trench with plastic landscaping fabric. This is usually used to prevent weeds from growing up through graveled areas and will prevent the gravel from being absorbed by the soil when it becomes wet. Once the fabric is in place it is time to start filling the trench with gravel. Ideally, you want this to be filled so that it is level with the ground surface.

Step Four:

You now have a working drain. Run a hosepipe at the starting point to ensure water flows away smoothly. If all works as it should, it is time to cover the gravel with another layer of landscaping fabric and place a layer of topsoil on it to seal the drain and prevent debris being washed into it and causing blockages.

Step Five:

If you have a turfed lawn, simply place the turf back over the covered drain. The process is complete and you should now have a fully functional drainage system that will help keep your home and garden free from standing water.

A French drain provides a quick, easy and unobtrusive way for you to divert water away from the places you don’t want it. If you have a pond in the lower levels of your garden, it is a great idea to divert the drain to it as the water will contain nutrients and microbes that will feed your fish.

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