All you need to know about French Drain

A french drain is one of many names but serves one main purpose.  A french drain is also known as a rubble drain, rock drain, land drain, or subsoil drain, but each refers to the same structure.  A pipe within a dug trench covered in rocks rather than soil.  The trench is lined with wood and other materials.  Why? To avoid extra moisture from ground water.  Could you benefit from a french drain?  Let’s find out.  

A french drain diverts underground water away from the home.  How does it do this?

The pipe is not attached to your home, instead it is a stand alone pipe perforated to allow overflow water to flow away.  Extra water seeps into the pipe (once water levels get too high) and bounces off rocks until it reaches the ditch or the sewer drain.  

Additionally to prevent debris in the french drain, cloth can be added on top of the rocks to act as a filter.  The other way to limit debris is to change the type of pipe used.  Slotted pipes can be more effective than those with small holes because debris cannot prevent water flow as can occasionally happen with the small hole pipes.

Once properly installed and functioning correctly, you will notice a major difference.

Reasons to get a french drain

There are many reasons to look into installing a french drain.  Here are the three most common:

  • Dryer yard
  • Some yards are not naturally equipped for proper draining.  Whether part of your yard is on a slant, or you are always noticing puddles on your yard after storms, this is a problem.  A wet yard is not good for home value, yard health, or overall home health.  After the installation of a french drain, you will notice that your yard is much dryer and behaves better after storms.

  • Alternative waterproofing/basement
  • Do you notice water flowing into your basement?  This might be because your property doesn’t drain well.  Maybe all the water flows towards your home, or collects at your basement windows.  Whatever it is, you will need to look into solutions.  If full waterproofing isn’t in the cards, or you want that extra layer of protection, look into a french drain option.  It will route groundwater away from your home’s structure.

  • Retaining wall
  • If you are building a retaining wall you need a french drain or else the extra water will begin to collect.  If water begins to accumulate, your wall will essentially act as a dam and result in flooding issues.

Pros and Cons

  • Reroutes water
  • Can prevent flooding
  • Will limit the amount of water at the surface
  • Increase home value
  • Must for a retaining wall
  • Fairly simple
  • Mostly care free
  • Can rip up parts of your property
  • Debris can get stuck
  • Process is a big commitment


If you are looking for a solution to a wet lawn, you may have to look no further than a french drain.  Named not after the country but after Henry French the man who in 1859 came up with the idea.  This system offers an effective solution to ineffective water draining.