Home ProjectsExterior How to Install a French Drain

How to Install a French Drain

by Haylie

After moving in we quickly learned that the grade of our driveway, in combination with the concrete ledge from our covered carport and the down spout from the corner of our house, funneled run off water into a pool at the base of our drive way and in the front corner of our yard.  So my husband and his buddy put their brains together and came up with a plan to help redirect water so that it no longer pools. They decided to install a french drain. Here is how they did it:


  • Notice water pooling locations
  • Plan water redirection and dispersement
  • Dig trench
  • Buy supplies
  • Lay first layer of gravel
  • Layer pipe with filter sleeve
  • Cover with gravel
  • Lay filler dirt


  • Perforated pipe
  • T-joint pipe connector
  • Pipe filter sleeves
  • Drain collection basin
  • Gravel (we used 1 sq yd. of gravel)
  • Trencher
  • 90° pipe joint
  • Shovel
  • Stamping tool
  • Zip ties

To find the supplies necessary we looked at local hardware stores like Lowe’s, HomeDepot and we found some items on Amazon.  For the bigger machinery, we rented the equipment from HomeDepot. They have very reasonable prices and are easy to work with.


Here is a diagram (above) of the general idea of the french drain. The perforated pipe allows water to exit the pipe in small portions as the majority of it is pushed to the end catch basin. The pipe filter sleeves fit like a sock to the pipe and helps keep dirt and sediment out of the small wholes in the pipe so it doesn’t get clogged.

Here is the layout that we chose. The circle grate catches our down spout runoff from our gutters and channels it to the main square grate drain at the end of the driveway. (This drawing is an excellent example of how artistic my husband is. Its great isn’t it?) Our yard is at a natural grade so we didn’t have to account for this in our equation. If your yard does not have a downward grade away from your foundation, you should definitely do more research to ensure that you are funneling water away from your foundation. 

Trench dug, and starting to lay the pipe.  You cant really tell from the photos but the trench was about 2 feet deep; deep enough to lay gravel on the bottom, sides and top of the pipe before filling it in with the filler dirt. 

Cole, standing around… doing nothing. 😉 Just kidding. 

Adding the top layer of gravel after installing the pipe with the filter sleeve on.

Down spout into drain.

Gravel arrived!

Packing in the gravel around the drain. 

The corner where we decided to put the square grate drain is where all the water kept pooling. You can tell because of all of the debris that is still on the driveway in that area.

Packing filler dirt around the drain.

Adding the 90° spout to the pipe pointing downward into the collection basin at the end of the line. This basin was filled with mostly gravel and then topped off with filler dirt. The goal was to make the line long enough so that the water will be mostly filtered out of the perforated pipe by the time it gets to this basin. It basically acts as an overfill catch basin to avoid flooding the rest of our yard.

Packed in the rest of the gravel.
Filled in with filler dirt.

This is the final product. I don’t have a photo of it but after this we laid straw and grass seed. This solution has worked like a charm for us. Occasionally we have to go and empty the trap in the drain at the end of the driveway but that is about the extent of the maintenance that we have had to do.


Almost a year later here is what our french drain looks like. We are well into spring and we had a quick thunderstorm so I wanted to grab some photos of how effective our drain is right after rainfall.

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