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The Process

So, you’ve noticed that you are dealing with a pesky excess of water around your home or land? Getting it to run off in the way that you want is a nightmare? Well, know that you aren’t alone. Water can be a bit of a headache when trying to prevent it from eroding your foundations or soil. That is why Choice French drains are among the most popular methods for controlling water.

French drains are simple yet elegant underground water drainage systems that farmers and builders have trusted for generations. If you are in the market for one yourself, but don’t want to pay the hefty installation price, here’s how you can build your own.

The Supplies You Will Need to Complete this Task

A French drain is comprised of only a few simple pieces: 4″ plastic drain piping (perforated), a trench, landscape fabrics, and washed gravel for drainage. The most difficult part is going to be the process of digging the trench itself. For this, you can either choose to it by hand with a shovel, or by machine with a trench digging machine.

Trench digging machines can be expensive to rent or buy but make the process much faster and easier. Once you make that choice, you will have to decide on what type of piping you want. PVC piping needs to be cut, angled, and sealed together to get the exact shape and angles that you need, but it is almost impossible to break or collapse. Flexible drainpipe will be cheaper and easier to maneuver but can be damaged by drain snakes if they ever need to be unclogged.

The Building Process

  • The first step is to always call 811. This is a hotline that will be able to tell you if your area if free of any water or power lines before you dig.
  • Next, you want to plan and dig your trench system. The trenches should be at least 12-inches wide, and 18-24-inches deep. This can be done with a shovel, or with a machine. Remember to provide a 1-inch slope for every 8-feet of length of the trench.
  • Next you want to line the trench with your landscape fabric. The lining should be wide enough to extend at least 1-foot beyond the edges of the trench on top, pin the edges down with nails or spikes.
  • Now add at least 2-3-inches of gravel at the bottom of your trench on top of the fabric lining.
  • Lay the drainpipe on the gravel, making sure that the perforated drain holes are facing down.
  • Fill in the trench with the rest of the gravel, making sure to stop 2-3-inches from the top of the trench.
  • Fold the landscape fabric edges on top of the gravel, and cover with packed soil. Follow up with reseeding the grass so the French drain ditch seamlessly blends with your lawn.

Final Thoughts

Building a French drain is rather simple, as you can see. However, despite the simple process, it still requires a hefty amount of work to make sure it is done correctly. Always take the time to pre-plan every aspect of the job before starting. There is nothing worse than getting halfway in and realizing you have forgotten a component or made a grave error. With a bit of time, patience, and hard work, you too can have a great French drainage system around your home or property!

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