As fall approaches, wetter months are on the way. While we don’t always get an abundance of rain, the risk of a large amount of rainfall is ever-present. That’s why having proper landscape drainage is vitally important for your home and your finances. The proverbial “what if” is just too great to ignore proper drainage.

Numerous problems can arise if you don’t have proper landscape drainage. During heavy rains, homes without good drainage often experience flooding. This isn’t just inconvenient, it may lead to mold growth and wood rot, not to mention property loss in the form of water damaged possessions.

French drains are an excellent means of protecting your home and your property. They do this by diverting groundwater from your basement or foundation using slotted pipes, gravel and fabric. The gravel and fabric are newer additions to French drains and are important filters, keeping sand and soil from clogging the pipes

How do you go about installing French drains? We’re glad you asked! The instructions may seem simple, but it’s important to follow carefully.

Use perforated drainage pipes as they let the groundwater enter and exit through the perforations. Some people use pipes with circular openings, but we suggest using slotted pipes. The slots keep out fine soil and other clogging materials much better than the circular openings.

Once you have the pipe, fabric filter and gravel, you’re ready to begin.

  1. Dig a trench, at least two feet wide, along the outside of your foundation. It can be as shallow as two feet for slab-on-grade homes or as deep as six feet for a home with a basement.
  2. Lay the pipe in the trench, ensuring that it slopes from a high point to a low point so that gravity can do its job moving the water through the pipe and away from your home.
  3. Bury the pipe under a minimum of twelve inches of washed gravel.
  4. Place the filter fabric over the gravel. This prevents soil from clogging the pipe.
  5. Fill in the trench with the dirt you originally removed. Fill only to the original grade height. Use leftover dirt for raised garden beds or to fill in low spots in your landscaping.

It doesn’t sound all that hard. Once again, we caution that if you’re not 100% comfortable doing this yourself (just digging the trench is very labor intensive), please call a professional. An improperly installed French drain creates a huge risk to your home. If you already have a landscape drainage system, be sure you are properly caring for it.