How To Install A French Drain

If you’re dealing with water pooling in your yard, a french drain could be the solution. Installing a french drain is an effective way to prevent water damage to your property. In this article, we’ll guide you on how to install a french drain.

What is a French Drain?

A french drain is a trench filled with gravel and a perforated pipe that redirects surface and groundwater away from an area. The drain is designed to move water to a more suitable location, such as a storm drain or a dry well.

Materials Required for Installing a French Drain

Before installing the french drain, gather the following materials:

  • Perforated pipe
  • Gravel or crushed stone
  • Landscape fabric
  • Shovel
  • Tape measure
  • Saw
  • Rocks, bricks or blocks
  • Pipe connectors and couplings
  • Safety gear (gloves, goggles, mask)

Steps for Installing a French Drain

Step 1: Plan and Mark the Trench

The first step in installing a french drain is to plan and mark the trench route. The trench should be at least 12 inches wide and 18 inches deep. The slope of the trench should have a minimum of 1% gradient to ensure proper drainage.

Step 2: Dig the Trench

Next, dig the trench along the marked route. Make sure the trench is wide enough to accommodate the perforated pipe and the gravel. Use a saw to cut the pipe to the required length.

Step 3: Add Gravel to the Trench

After digging the trench, add a layer of gravel to the bottom of the trench. The gravel should be at least 2 inches deep. Use a rake or shovel to level the gravel.

Step 4: Install the Perforated Pipe

Place the perforated pipe on top of the gravel layer. The perforations of the pipe should be facing downwards. Connect the pipe using pipe connectors and couplings as needed.

Step 5: Cover the Pipe with Gravel

Cover the perforated pipe with a layer of gravel. The gravel should be at least 2 inches deep. Use a rake or shovel to level the gravel.

Step 6: Cover the Trench with Landscape Fabric

Cover the trench with landscape fabric to prevent soil and debris from entering the drain. Make sure the fabric extends beyond the edges of the trench.

Step 7: Backfill the Trench

Backfill the trench with soil. Use rocks, bricks or blocks to hold the fabric in place at the edges of the trench.

Step 8: Test the Drain

Test the drain by pouring water into the trench. Observe how quickly the water drains away. If the water is not draining away quickly, you may need to adjust the slope of the trench or add more gravel.

Step 9: Finish the Trench

Finally, finish the trench by adding topsoil and planting grass or other ground cover. Make sure the area is well-watered to promote growth.

FAQs Related to How to Install a French Drain

1. How deep should a french drain be?

A french drain should be at least 18 inches deep.

2. What type of pipe should I use for a french drain?

Use a perforated pipe for a french drain.

3. How much gravel do I need for a french drain?

You’ll need at least 2 inches of gravel for the bottom and top layers of the trench.

4. Can I install a french drain myself?

Yes, you can install a french drain yourself if you have the necessary tools and materials.

5. How long does it take to install a french drain?

The time it takes to install a french drain depends on the size and complexity of the project. It can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days to complete.


Installing a french drain is a simple and effective way to prevent water damage to your home or property. By following these steps, you can install a french drain yourself and enjoy a dry and healthy yard. Remember to test the drain and adjust the slope or gravel as needed for optimal drainage.