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French Drain Guidance

French Drains 101

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What Is A French Drain ?

Well you wouldnt believe it by seeing it, but spring is right around the corner for our Pearson Sprinkler Company service area. Along with spring comes rain, and along with the rain comes drainage issues. When rain falls it has two options: it can either be absorbed by the soil, or it can runoff. Unfortunately, our service area is dominated by clay-rich soils. Clay is composed of very tiny particles that fit very tightly together. Because of this, water does not infiltrate quickly enough during a rain event and the soil quickly becomes saturated. (Picture this in your mind compared to a sandy soil at the beach.) When water cannot go down, it will travel in the area of least resistance, downhill. Water will collect in low areas of your yard. This can be in your flowerbed, next to your fence, in the middle of your yard, or if your property was not graded properly during development, next to your house. Too much water next to your house can damage your house and foundation and even cause interior flooding.

A French drainage system installation is a valuable and unobtrusive landscaping element that offers superior water drainage. French drains are especially good at protecting building foundations as well as minimizing erosion issues on your property. A French drain allows for water to be transported to a more suitable area for drainage. French drains can be covered by soil and sod, decorative river rock or even walking path stones. French drains can be hidden beneath your landscaping or be visually incorporated into your landscaping.

What is a French drain?Named after lawyer and former Assistant U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry F. French (1813-1885), most French drainage system installations basically consist of a corrugated polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe that has a series of small holes in the top to allow water to enter the pipe so that it can flow through and out to the exit. A ground cloth or weed screen is used to cover the pipe to prevent future root growth in the drain. A layer of gravel, stone or other porous materials are used to cover the entire drainage system. The soil, grass and landscaping materials can then be set back into place. A French drain can also simply consist of a trench lined with landscape fabric, filled with gravel and covered with landscape fabric. (Essentially a tube of landscape fabric filled with gravel.) Coarse sand covers the gravel tube, followed by another layer of landscape fabric, topsoil and sod.

Although French drains are quite useful and beneficial, please keep in mind that they can become clogged, requiring maintenance or repair. If you require drainage assistance on your property, please contact Pearson Sprinkler Company and we can help you through this process.

French Drains 101