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How To Build a French Drain

Direct water out of a landscape with this easy-to-build drainage ditch.

More in Outdoors

  • Time

    Day

  • Price Range

    $50 - $100

  • Difficulty

    Easy

Highlights:

Step 1: Find a Path for the Water to Follow

French drains use gravity, so you'll build it along a route that will direct the water away from an area that usually pools up. Dig a trench about one to two feet down and at least six inches across, continuing the trench the entire distance of the path. The trench should get gradually deeper (or go downhill) as you move away from the problem area, so it can use gravity to direct the water away.

Step 2: Add the Landscaping Fabric and Gravel

Line the trench with landscape fabric, leaving some excess on the sides. Place gravel in the lined trench until it's halfway full.

Step 3: Lay the Pipe

Lay a perforated pipe on top of the gravel with the holes facing down. More water will enter the pipe and drain away if the holes are facing down. Fill the rest of the trench with gravel (Image 1) and wrap the sides of the landscape fabric back over it (Image 2). This will block out any debris and keep your new drain clean.

Step 4: Decorate the Drain

To make your drain more attractive, add larger, decorative stones on top of the landscape fabric. You can even plan ahead, adding some slight curves to the trench so it looks like a design element going through your yard.

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