The Ultimate Guide to French Drain Installation – Everything You Need to Know

Many homeowners need help with drainage issues that damage their yards, erode their soil, or limit their home’s usability. Fortunately, French drains are a simple solution that can solve these problems.

A French drain consists of a trench, pipe, gravel, and perforated drainpipe that redirects excess water to an approved exit point. Before digging, always call 811 to have underground utility lines marked before starting any excavation project.


A French drain is a perforated pipe that routes excess water away from your home’s foundation. It’s an easy-to-install DIY project with major benefits for your landscaping and your home’s structure.

The drainage pipe needs to be properly situated on your property to get the most benefit. The pipe should be angled downward toward some area where the excess water can safely deposit. This could be a municipal storm drain or a dry well.

When choosing a drain pipe, opt for a 4-inch diameter – anything smaller will risk clogs. The pipe should also be perforated, with either slots or circular holes. A slotted pipe is preferable, as it reduces the number of soil particles that enter the drainage system.

The pipe’s exit point is also important. You want it to be positioned toward your flood-prone areas, not your house. For this reason, it’s best to choose a location short of your home.

You’ll also need to mark the drainage trench, not accidentally digging into underground utility lines. Finally, you’ll need to buy enough gravel to cover the drain once it’s installed. One cubic foot of gravel equals 96 pounds, so you’ll need to know how much your drainage area is before calculating how many cubic feet of gravel you need.

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Digging the Trench

Standing water can damage your lawn, create a breeding ground for mosquito larvae, and seep into your home’s foundation. French drain installation in Staten Island is an easy solution to help you solve your drainage problems and protect your property.

Start by evaluating the areas of your yard where water pools after it rains. You’ll want to dig a trench with a mild downward slope for best results. The pipe needs to be angled downward at least 1 inch for every 10 feet of line, so measure to ensure that the trench is properly graded.

Make sure to plan your route carefully so that you don’t disrupt any underground utility lines. It’s a good idea to call 811 before starting any digging project so that the utility company can mark your location to let you know what lies beneath. It’s also a good time to contact your municipality and determine whether you need a drain installation permit.

On your big day, wear work gloves and protective equipment. It’s also good to ask friends or family to assist with this project, as trenching can be heavy work. Once you’ve dug your trench, line it with a layer of water-permeable fabric (also known as landscape fabric). This helps prevent dirt from clogging the pipe while helping water move through the soil faster.

Pipe Installation

When a French drain isn’t correctly placed or maintained, it can become clogged and fail to work. A professional installation can ensure that your drainage system is working properly and will continue to work in the future.

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The best place to put your French drain is near the source of the water problem. It should be positioned on a slope that will direct the excess water toward something safe to deposit, like a municipal catch basin, a tree well, or some other area on your property. If it’s not directing water away from your house, you risk water seeping into your foundation and causing serious damage.

You’ll need a perforated pipe and gravel to install a French drain. You’ll also need to have a trench dug, which can be expensive for many homeowners. Before digging, always call 811 to have your utility lines marked. If you don’t, you could run into problems with your pipes or even break them.

If you need help determining whether a French drain will solve your drainage issues, consult a local landscaper to learn more about the benefits and costs of the system. They can help you determine where to install the drain and how to dig it so that it will be effective. They can also help you find a company to install the drain.

Filling the Trench with Gravel

Unlike most plumbing pipes, French drains are perforated at regular intervals. This allows water to enter and exit the line without accumulating mud and debris. The perforations can be circles or slots, but slotted ones are preferred. A properly sited French drain should have a slight downward slope and be located far enough away from your home to avoid flooding the neighboring property (that’s illegal, too). You should also consider the potential for erosion along the drainage route and ensure the pipes won’t hit any underground utility lines or walls when they’re in place.

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Once your trench is lined, you can begin filling it with gravel. It’s important to choose coarse gravel, such as river rocks, that will be large enough to fit your drain line and slow the water flow down so it can absorb into the ground. It’s also a good idea to fold the excess landscape fabric over the gravel and leave a 5″ gap between the top of the rock and the ground surface.

You can finish your project by adding an inlet grate and connecting all the pipes. At this point, it’s a good idea to test the drain by pouring water into the inlet grate and watching for a gentle slope toward your drain.