French Drains – A Plumbing Solution for your Flooding Yard
Have you ever had water standing in your yard for days, even after a light rain? Does this drainage issue
become a problem with basement leaking? If you have poor lawn drainage, not only can it prevent you from
enjoying your yard, it can prevent your kids from playing on it or you performing basic chores like weed
eating or mowing. In addition, the foundation of your home can be compromised from repeated drainage
It may seem like your drainage problem is something you have to put up with; however, installing a French
drain can make a big difference and solve most of your drainage problems. A French drain is a
straightforward channel drain that draws away water from the most vulnerable areas of your yard. It's a
simple, cost effective solution that can garner great advantages for your overall landscaping.
Causes of Inadequate Yard Drainage
There are a number of reasons why you may have standing water on your lawn due to poor drainage; some
involve your yard only while your neighbors' yards could be contributing to the problem as well. In regards
to your yard, you may have inadequate shaping or contour in addition to having poor soil content. If your
yard has good soil with a healthy blend of minerals and sand, the water is able to soak into the ground;
however, if you have hard compacted soil like clay, there is no place for the water to sink into, thereby
causing it to stand in the yard.
Sometimes, the neighboring yards are a factor. If their lawns have a slightly higher elevation than yours, it is
natural that water will run off from their yards onto yours. And if you have poor soil or a level yard without
adequate drainage, the water has no place to go. If you are truly unlucky, you will likely have both a lower
level yard as well as poor soil.
Installing a French Drain
Installing a French drain is not difficult, but it is time and labor intensive. You can hire a contractor to do the
work for you or do it yourself. It is a bit more involved than just digging a trench and installing pipe but
certainly doable for a home improvement plumbing project. Before starting, speak with your neighbor about
the project if the drain will be near their property line. In addition, have your cable and electrical company
come out and mark where the underground lines are to avoid tapping into them with your shovel, disrupting
service for the neighborhood.
Once of the things to make sure of is having a regular slope in order for the French drain to work properly.
Therefore, if you have a level yard, the trench you dig for the pipes must slant slightly downward toward the
edge of the yard or where you want the water to run off. In addition, you need a layer of washed, drainage
gravel both below and above the pipe you install in the trench. The complicated part lies in where to put
your French drain and pipe, not in the labor itself. The best thing to do is choose the highest point of your
yard and dig a trench to the lowest part. Some people who live in town knock a hole into the curb so the
drainage pipes leads to the street and eventually a storm drain. However, the concept works just as well with
the pipe leading to a drainage ditch or unused part of the yard. After the first hard rain after the French drain
is installed, you will wonder why you didn't do it sooner!
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