How to install french drains for back yard drainage

There may be times when, after an excessive rain, you will encounter drainage problems. This may happen because your house is positioned downhill, or because your yard just pools water. The best solution for these problems are french drains.

French drains are drain pipes that will be installed in the ground, helping you to better drain your yard.

Tools and materials:

  • spade
  • landscape fabric
  • gravel
  • sand
  • sod
  • string level
  • string
  • 2 stakes
  • tape measure


  1. First of all you will need to find the source of the problem, meaning the source of the water flow, or the places where water pools most. You will also need to think of a route for the drain pipes that will not get in the way of other installations.
  2. You should also try not to affect any other buildings or yards. The excess water should drain in the local drainage system, and not on the surface. Of course that you can drain the water in  lake, if you have one. Also see if there are any cable, or other pipes in the ground where you’ve planned your route.
  3. Have in mind the the drain pipe needs to have its own slope. It needs a drop of one foot for every 100 feet. To achieve this, you will need a string. Start digging the trench and use the string to measure the slope.
  4. You also need to think of the magnitude of the problem. If the flow of water is bigger, then you should consider installing a wider drain pipe. This also means a wider trench.
  5. You will need to line the trench with landscape fabric before applying gravel. This fabric will help you keep dirt out of the gravel. The gravel needs to be porous to promote the water flow.
  6. To complete the french drain, fill the rest of the trench with coarse sand, covered by landscape fabric and 4″ of top soil.


  • if you think you’re not up for the job, don’t hesitate to hire a professional. He will ensure that the job is done the right way.
  • if you’re not on a budget, then you can hire a backhoe operator to dig the trench faster.
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