A French drain is a type of trench filled with gravel or rock that redirects surface water and ground water away from an area to prevent flooding or water damage. The trench is typically lined with landscaping fabric to prevent clogging, and the gravel allows water to filter through and be carried away from the area. French drains are commonly used in landscaping and construction to manage water flow and protect structures from water damage.
In the photo below, PVC pipe is used for a French drain with commercial grade Filter Fabric. The pipe has two rows of holes drilled A third of the way up the pipe. This allows water to flow through the bottom third of the pipe out to a desired location without leaking back out into the soil.

How long do French drains last?

French drains using corrugated pipe may be ineffective or even cause more wetness soon after they’re installed. Most French drains use slotted corrugated pipe. This pipe holds water in the ridges and also allows water to bleed out of the bottom portion of the pipe into the soil causing excess subsurface saturation which attracts roots. Typically, French drains are covered over with soil or sod that does not allow water into the drain fast enough.

Are there better alternatives to French drains?

American Drains are the better alternative to French drains. They basically use plastic panels separated by spacers to form a structural trench that sits on a PVC pipe with a trough in the bottom to prevent water from seeping back out of the pipe. They also have a perforated top drain cap to allow water to flow straight into the top of the drain. For more information visit americandrain.com.

Is a French drain the best solution for my wet, muddy yard?

Most of the time, the answer is no. French drains can be a great tool  for a flat area Or around the base of a foundation of a home or wall but typically standing water in a yard Is the result of a low spot that is often caused by too much water being directed into that area. finding the source of the water, collecting that water and directing it to a  desired location is often the best first step.  drainage is a process.  On many homes, downspouts dump  hundreds or even thousands of gallons of water that accumulates at a low point in the yard. Managing this water will often give you much more bang for your buck than a French drain and will often solve yard wetness problems while protecting the health of the home.

How do I clean or maintain my French drain?

All Drainage Systems require some maintenance. French drains should have an easy access clean out at the top/ high end of the system. When properly installed, you should be able to run water in one end and see it come out the other. This is true with PVC pipe systems with a trough in the bottom third of the pipe. The trough portion allows water that goes in to flow out of the outlet.

Unfortunately, corrugated pipe systems often allow hundreds of gallons to flow in with little or no water flowing out of the outlet.  We always recommend replacing corrugated systems with PVC systems since corrugated has been proven to fail and often doesn’t work properly to begin with causing excess saturation that could lead to undermining to trees or other structures. At the very least, these inadequate systems cause excess subsurface saturation in the areas that they are supposed to be drying out.

What is the cost of a French drain?

Many factors affect the cost of a French drain. French drains can average around $100 per foot.  Factors that can significantly affect the cost of a French drain are the depth and length of the drain, the location of the drain and the ease of access to the location.

In other words a French drain near the driveway may be half the cost of one that is installed 200 yards from truck parking. A French drain that is 2 ft deep may be three times as expensive as a 12-in deep French drain. A deeper French drain may mean that there is lots of dirt that needs to be hauled away which also affects price.

How do I find the best French drain contractors near me?

We recommend finding a company who specializes in drainage and French drains and has great reviews. French drains are often installed by landscapers and other contractors that don’t really understand principles like subsurface water movement. I drainage specialist will have years of experience Excavating and installing systems in wet, saturated soils. Some aspects of French drain installation are not intuitive. for example, a French drain in clay soil often needs to be more than 2 ft deep to be effective. shallow French drains will only dry out areas within a couple of feet of the French drain where a French drain with a proper depth can dry out an entire yard quickly and efficiently.

Does Drain Designs install French drains?

Yes, Drain Designs installs the best French drains available, designed to last a lifetime with proper maintenance. We also install lifetime guaranteed American Drains which are far more effective as well as easier to test and maintain. You can literally take the cap off of the American drain and look straight down to see the pipe. You can see the water coming in through the perforated panels. When you run water into one end of the system, water comes out the other end – for life, guaranteed!

The photos below show the difference between a traditional French drain (Left) and an American Drain (right). Like the French drain, the American drain is nearly invisible when it is embedded in the grass. The American drain allows water to easily filter through the top And through the perforated side panels. The American drain can be easily accessed for inspection, testing or cleaning by removing the top cap.

Images of a French Drains