What Is A French Drain
A landscaping French drain is a gravel-filled trench that’s lined with landscape fabric to keep soil and silt out of the gravel. While some types of these drains include a perforated drain pipe and may be covered with grass, the traditional French drain is simpler with no drain pipe and gravel running all the way to its surface.
With a French drain, surface water flows into the trench, where it freely moves through the gravel. The bottom of the trench is sloped slightly, so gravity carries the water to an exit point at the end of the trench. At the exit point, the water can be collected in a large swale or a dry well, or it can simply flow into a suitable drainage area or a rain garden.
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Once you are panked and tamped and out of breath, you can get a drink of water, because you are done grading your yard.
Well, almost. Its kind of ugly now isnt it? Maybe we should plant some grass so noone will ever know about our yard grading project!
Remove The Drain Grate
Locate each catch basin and remove the drain cover, which is usually a metal or plastic grid set mounted in the rim of the catch basin. Some systems have only one drain grate, while others may have two or more. They are generally located in low-lying areas of the yard but are sometimes located in the center of a large patio or pool deck, or at the spot where roof gutter downspouts empty at the ground near the foundation. Drain grates located in the yard may be obstructed by leaves or yard debris, so you may need to hunt a little to find them.
Sometimes the grates can simply be pried up with a screwdriver sometimes they are secured to the rim of the catch basin with screws.
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Find Your High And Low Points
Using a can of spray paint to mark the high and low points can be a helpful visual indicator.
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Establish A Level Grade Line
After you find the high and low points, youll need to determine the Rise and the Run of your land. This will allow you to establish a level grade line so youll know how much grading you need to do. Dont trust your eye it can be very deceiving!
What youll need:
The Run is the horizontal distance. Or, how far your highest point is from your lowest point. Your run needs to be a level, straight line. To measure the horizontal distance, put a stake in the ground at the highest point and another stake at the lowest point. Connect the two stakes with a tight string with a level attached to it so that the string is perfectly level. Measure the length of the string. This is your run.
The Rise is the vertical distance. The number of inches/feet that the ground is sloping from the highest point to the lowest point that youve marked. Its much easier to find the rise once you have the run . To get your rise, all you have to do is measure the stake that is at your low point all the way from the string straight down to the ground.
Finding the level grade line can be confusing, so watch this video by This Old House to get more clarification if you are having trouble.
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Adjusting/relocating Pipes Traps Vents Etc
The pipes that lead to my oil furnace were only coming out of the ground by a little bit. So, when I had my furnace cleaned back a few months ago, I asked Mr. Wally the Furnace Guy to raise these pipes. All it took was a couple fittings to extend the height of the pipes so we wouldnt bury them, and I could still get my oil.
You can also buy some fittings at the hardware store to extend the pipes yourself. I would be cautious if you dont know what the pipes and vents do consult a professional.
Also make sure you wont be covering any traps, vents or anything else when you fill in with dirt. You dont want to bury anything important.
I also had a random hole in the foundation Im not sure what it was for but its definitely not in use anymore. So, before we graded the yard, we filled the hole up with cement to close it off. Problem solved.
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We Off The Best Yard Drain For Waterproofing Your Lawn
- Helps direct drainage away from the foundation Excessive water in your soil will create or worsen foundation damage. The less your soil is absorbing and expanding water near your foundation, the stronger it can be. Luckily, the lawn wedge directs water away from your foundation.
- Eliminates the need for problematic popup drains The lawn wedge can safely sit over your drain while preventing debris from clogging everything and reducing water flow.
- Can be used in junction with a dry well The lawn wedge was designed to work best with all you other waterproofing strategies, including dry wells.
- Great add-on item for exterior drainage projects The lawn wedge adds even more protection to your home against the dangers of excess water and moisture.
- Durable and strong The LawnWedge is shatter-resistant. You wont have to worry about it breaking when you do routine lawn maintenance.
- Easy to install The LawnWedge doesnt require any fancy tools or extensive expertise. The LawnWedge only needs to be set where you want, and itll take care of everything else.
Solutions For Soggy Landscaping
First and foremost, contact a professional landscaping company to come help you figure out the right drainage possibilities for your backyard. The solution to landscape drainage can vary depending on your location, budget, and landscape design or vision. Here are some common drainage solutions:
- Wet Plants- This means plants that need and absorb a high volume of water as a means of preserving your other plants. However, unless you live somewhere with a lot of rain, they require a lot of hose water which can affect you water bill.
- Install Drains- This is a more expensive option but it can help you direct water anywhere you would like in your backyard or landscape. There a several types of drains you may consider:
- French Drains- This means pipe surrounded by gravel this is an above ground or slightly above ground drain that moves water from one place to another.
- Underground drains- This method involves installing a grate and moving the water to an outside drain.
- Dry Well- This is an environmentally friendly option that allows for you to use the rain water for watering your lawn and landscape without sprinklers.
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Alternative Solution: French Drains
If you cant see a way to regrade the slope of your yard based on this information, youre probably wondering how on earth you can fix this problem. My suggestion is to install a french drain in order to fix the water issues.
A french drain is basically a pipe with holes in the top that you bury underground so that when the water seeps down it will drain into the pipe and be redirected away from your house. The drain pipe will have a slope to it in order to redirect the water to a different area .
So, if you think this could be the solution for you, check out my article, How to install a french drain in your yard, which gives step-by-step instructions that you can follow to install a french drain.
Check The Termination Area
Locate the termination areathe point where the drain piping from the basin empties out. This may be near the street curb or somewhere else in your yard where a slope can safely channel water away. Reach in and clean out the termination point as far as you can reach. Some systems may have a grate over the termination point if so, remove it to reach inside to clean it out. Here, too, a shop vacuum can be used to reach up onto the drainpipe to suck out debris.
If the drain terminates at a dry-well , then lift the top of the well and inspect the basin for debris or excess soil. Remove all material that might cause clogging.
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Yard Grading : How To Grade A Yard For Proper Drainage
Draining issues can be a home owners worst nightmare. Yard grading is definitely something you can take on as a DIY project. With a little sweat equity and these helpful tips, youll have this yard grading project knocked out in a weekend.
If you have concerned about the slope of your yard this is the post for you. Learn yard grading techniques now to prevent major water problems later.
What Every Home Owner Needs On Hand In Case Of A Water Problem
So weve talked a lot about how to grade your yard for proper drainage. And, if its not possible to grade your yard you can use a french drain. But what do you do if you are getting water into your basement? This recently happened to me after we got 7 inches of rain in one day! Yes 7 inches.
There was a tiny pinhole in my foundation in the basement, through which water was literally POURING out of like a faucet. I panicked. Water can cause so much damage so quickly. I was able to stop the flow temporarily with one of those stretchy erasers and some flex seal but I was lucky that this worked for a few hours until I could get the good stuff: Fastplug. FastPlug is a product by Drylock that comes in a powder form. You mix it with some water and it will plug a hole even with the pressure of water pouring in fast. Its an absolute lifesaver if you are having water issues. and I suggest that you keep some on hand at all times just as a precaution.
Dont forget to grab my super handy project planner worksheets for all of your DIY project needs! Check out the video to see how I use them.
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Determine A Trench Location
Assess the flood-prone area of your yard to determine a general location and route for your French drain. Most important, determine where the water should go, and confirm that the exit or drainage end of the trench is in a suitable location. Also consider the practical effects of an exposed gravel channel in the yard: How might it affect traffic routes, views, or recreation areas?
How A Yard Drain Works
The structure of a yard drain is very simple: A small underground catch basin covered by a metal or plastic grate catches runoff water, and one or more branch drain pipes carry this collected water from the basin to some termination pointoften near a street or into a municipal storm drain. Yard drains can also deliver water to a dry well, retaining area, or surface-drainage field. Piping for yard drains may be corrugated plastic tubing with perforations along the bottom that allow some of the water to drain into the soil along the length of the pipe, or it may be rigid plastic pipe without perforations that carries all of the water to the termination point.
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A Simple System That Requires Simple Maintenance
Aaron Stickley is a licensed plumber with 15 years of experience in commercial, new residential plumbing, and residential service and repair. He started his own residential service and repair plumbing business. Aaron’s articles about plumbing on The Spruce span four years.
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- Working Time: 1 – 2 hrs
- Total Time: 1 – 2 hrs
- Skill Level: Beginner
- Estimated Cost: $20 to $30
A yard drain, also called an area drain or landscape drain, is a common hardscape feature in yards with significant contours, extensive landscaping, or a swimming pool. It can also be used to channel water from a roof gutter and downspout system out into a yard and away from the foundation. This type of drain works much the same way as a floor drain in a garage or basement floor, collecting standing water and channeling it to the street, a storm drain, or other drainage area. You can identify a yard drain by its telltale grate installed at ground level, usually in a low-lying area of the yard. Like any home drain, a yard drain can back up and cause flooding. Proper maintenance of the yard drain will prevent pooling of water in your yard.
Landscape Drainage For Excess Surface Water
- Skill Level: Beginner
- Estimated Cost: $8 to $10 per 10 linear feet
There are different types of French drains, and the types used in landscaping are for dealing with excess surface water. For example, if your neighbor’s land stands at a higher elevation than yours, you might get water runoff from your neighbor after a heavy rain. Because you can’t change the neighbor’s land, you need better yard drainage to deal with all the water. A French drain is a common and inexpensive solution.
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When To Call A Professional
- What is a French drain?
A French drain is a trench composed of landscape fabric and gravel that helps to direct surface water. It is used to prevent water pooling, as well as to direct water away from home foundations and other structures.
- How deep does a French drain need to be?
French drains are generally around 8 inches to 2 feet deep. The depth can be adjusted along the drain to create a slope.
- Can you cover a French drain with dirt?
No. Dirt will clog up the French drains gravel and prevent it from functioning properly.
Line The Trench With Fabric
Line the trench with landscape fabric using a continuous swath if possible. Otherwise, overlap pieces of fabric by at least 12 inches and secure the ends with fabric staples driven into the ground with a hammer. Secure both ends of the fabric with staples. Fold back excess fabric to both sides of the trench you will trim it to fit later.
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Elk Lawn Grate Yard Drain For Sump Pump Discharge And Downspout Extensions
- Please select the attribute you wantX
Shipping & Returns: Free Standard Shipping on All Orders and Easy-Breezy Returns.
- APPLICATION: The ELK Lawn Grate is designed to be used with 3″ and 4″ thin wall drain pipes, which are pliable.
- HOW IT HELPS: Helps to direct drainage away from the home or building foundation and eliminates the need for problematic pop-up drains. DURABILITY: Heavy duty grating systems withstand the wear-and-tear of routine landscape maintenance.
- ADDITIONAL BENEFITS: Can be used in conjunction with a dry well. Drainage grates are perfect for landscaping and exterior drainage projects.
- IMPORTANT: The egg-like oval shape connection helps to give a compression fit. It is not designed to work with SCH 40 pipe. Please see the separate Lawn Grate Adapter for SCH 40 compatibility.