French Drain Installation

Drainage problems can lead to flooding, mold, or water damage around your home. Those new to the concept of landscape drainage will find the following paragraphs on french drain installation helpful. You might ask yourself, “what is a french drain?” or “do I need a french drain?”. We will primarily discuss the necessary steps of a french drain installation and provide diagrams, DIY instructions, and valuable facts. As a matter of fact, Houston Landscape Pros will help you determine if you need a french drain installation or catch basin drain, channel drain, or even in some extreme circumstances, a sump-pump install.

french drain after

How to Install a French Drain

In this page you will learn how to install a french drain step by step. HLP is a professional landscape drainage company that specializes in french drainage. We frequently finish french drain jobs and understand the importance of a proper install. Here is shortlist of what we will cover in the following sections:

  • What is French Drainage?
  • French Drain: Type 1
  • French Drain: Type 2
  • French Drain Pipes and Materials
  • French Drain Installation – Geo-textile
  • French Drain Installation – Underneath Existing Grass
  • Cost of French Drain Installation

Have any questions? Speak to our friendly staff: (713) 396-3320

What is a French Drainage System?

First off, a french drain is a water system that is always at a downward slope, so that the water will follow the slope and run off into the proper area. Indeed, there are two types of french drain systems: Type 1 and Type 2. They differ slightly due to their placement. Furthermore, when it rains, water will drain to the bottom of the trench. In a french drain installation, we bury gravel on top of the piping so that water can go straight to the bottom and into the pipes. In addition, we always fill the trench with gravel instead of dirt for three important reasons:

  1. It prevents the water from flowing to the bottom.
  2. It also clogs the pipes. When the water goes to the bottom, it will start to fill the trench and rise until it enters the pipes through the perforations.
  3. The perforated PVC pipes will divert water into the solid pipes to take it to its final destination.

Please see the picture below for a french drain installation example.

French Drain: Type 1

Below Houston Landscape Pros will teach you the necessary steps for a french drain install. If you have any more question after reading the information provided below, then go to our landscape drainage web-form. One of our professional team members would be happy to answer any questions or visit with you on site.

The Three (3) Steps to a French Drain: Type 1 Installation

1. Digging the trench, laying the geotextile
2. Laying the perforated PVC pipe correctly
3. Covering the pipe with gravel on all sides with edging

French Drain Type 2 Diagram

First Step: Digging the Trench, Laying the Geotextile

Firstly, digging the trench is the most labor-intensive part of the process for the french drain install. The trenches require manual digging because the installer must be mindful of utility lines. The beginning of the trench will be approximately six inches deep. Then, the installer must dig the trench at a slope: one inch deeper for every ten feet of piping to force the water to its final destination. Sloping the trench in this way accounts for friction loss and flow velocities caused by the moving water.

Second Step: Laying the Perforated PVC Pipe Correctly

The next step is to cover the trench completely with a landscaping geo-textile fabric. This unique material keeps the perforated PVC pipe clean from debris that could potentially clog the system. After that, lay down the PVC pipe with the holes facing down. Then, cover the pipe with gravel on all sides. After the french drain install is over, you will be able to see only the gravel at the same level as the ground.

Third Step: Covering the pipe with Gravel on all sides with Edging

The final step of the French drain installation is the edging. It will be the barrier between the gravel and the grass or the gravel and the landscaping bed. Otherwise, the grass will try to grow over the French drain, which does not look good. Again, only do a french drain install in the problem area. Eventually, the French drain connects to a pipe that is completely solid with no perforations that will take the water to its deposit area. Dirt will cover the solid pipes with no holes. Lastly, grass will be laid on top of it since these pipes cut straight through the grass area of the lawn.

How to Install a French Drain: Type 1

Want to know how to install a french drain: type 1? Learn from our landscape drainage specialist today!

French Drain Install: Type 2

As previously stated, the difference between type one and type two of the French drain install is that type two can be installed under any turf. It will use all the same materials with a few differences in the french drainage installation process.

The Six (6) Steps to a French Drain: Type 2 Installation

1. Dig the trench
2. Lay the geotextile
3. Connect the perforated pipe with the solid pipes
4. Put in the gravel
5. Wrap both the gravel and the perforated PVC pipes
completely with the geotextile material
6. Cover it with dirt and the preferred turf

French Drain Type 2 Diagram Houston Landscape Pros

French Drain: Type 2 Diagram

By contrast, the second type of French drainage system can be under any turf. The ability to install a lawn or a landscape bed over the French drain is the major difference between the two types. That is to say, the first type can never have dirt or grass covering it. For example, say you had a flooding issue in the middle of your yard, but you do not want to see a catch basin grate. In this case, the second french drain install model would be perfect for this situation. It is the ideal solution because it will be hidden entirely from view. Although this type of french drain install will be more expensive, it is versatile. The following will outline the French drain installation process for the two models.

French Drain Installation Experts

Before attempting a DIY french drain installation, consider working with a professional french drainage contractor to save money and get the job done right the first time.

French Drain Pipes and Materials

Before beginning the french drain installation process, the installer must have the proper materials. Houston landscape Pros always chooses the indicated materials that are compliant with city codes. Undoubtedly, for a French drain install, the best pipe to use is PVC SDR-35 piping. In comparison to most pipes used in this kind of drainage it is a little more expensive. However, we have found it to be the most durable product for the french drain install. It protects against root systems and movements in the soil. A French drain install requires a 4-in PVC perforated pipes and solid 4-inch PVC pipes.

Additionally, we use geotextile fabric to prevent dirt from coming into the pipes. After that comes the gravel. In this case, we recommend the most natural gravel available for french drain installations, which is River Rock and Bull Rock. Another essential material is bend-a-board edging. It is durable and made out of recycled material. Lastly, don’t forget the shovel needed to dig the trench for the french drain install!

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French Drain Installation Geotextile

French Drain Installation – Geotextile

Next, the geotextile material will be laid on the trench, making sure to put enough down to be able to cover the gravel and the pipes completely. Then, the perforated pipes will connect with the solid pipes that will take the excess water to the exit area. Since soil and sod will be installed on top of the French drain, the gravel along with the perforated PVC pipe must be completely wrapped around with the geo-textile material. Also, this fabric-like material protects the landscape drainage system from debris. Lastly, the soil and the grass will lie on top.

French Drain Installation Underneath Existing Grass

Since the grass will cover the french drain install, the trenches will be very deep. The channel needs to be about 1 foot deep at the start to install grass on top. The gravel and the pipes will each take up 4 inches. As a result, the lawn will need the remaining 4 inches of soil to grow correctly. Then, the trench will slope 1 inch for every 10 feet of piping. This system will be more expensive because of the labor involved in digging deeper trenches. It will also be more costly because a lot more dirt needs to be hauled out and stored while the trenches are being dug and the piping is being installed.

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catch basin drain system french drainage

French drain installation and catch basin system side-by-side but separate lines.

French Drain Install Additional Information

French drains cannot be connected directly to any other type of landscape drainage system. In fact, there must be at least 5 feet of solid piping separating it from another landscape drainage system such as a Catch Basin or a Sump Pump Drainage System. Putting one any closer contradicts the French drain’s purpose. Furthermore, a French drain cannot be connected to another landscape drainage system on the higher side of the slope because a French drain cannot have more water flow into it from another system. Having another system higher on the slope of the trench will cause the French drain to overflow or even clog. In conclusion, this specific design can only target specific problem areas. 

French Drain Install in Houston, TX

As many of you know, it rains year-round in Houston. French drain installation in Houston, Texas, is very important because of the clay soil. Clay soil forms tight layers that won’t allow water to drain through. In other words, that means after the heavy rainfall, drainage issues will most likely present themselves. Furthermore, the first signs of landscape drainage issues are soggy wet ground and pooling water around your foundation. Interestingly, a french drainage system is the most commonly used around the foundation of a house or building, especially in the Houston, TX area. View our landscaping gallery to see our projects and jobs.

For french drain installs in Houston, depending on the situation, in most cases, the drain system is placed closer to the building itself. Furthermore, this type of drainage pertains to both residential homes and commercial buildings. Due to its construction and proximity to the building, geotextile, and gravel will cover the PVC pipe drain. However, professionals implement this landscape drainage system when the problem area receives excessive water closest to the building and threatens the foundation and damage inside.

Cost of French Drain Installation

The cost of a french drain installation varies due to time-consuming obstacles that impact prices. With this in mind, the biggest expense for a french drain installation is labor. In addition, the proposed price for the french drain cost may increase if your property also needs a catch basins drain or a pop-up emitter installation. Indeed, our team trusted landscape drainage specialist will consider these factors when inspecting the property. If your property has a gutter system, connecting it to another landscape drainage system can also increase the cost of a french drain. In some cases, concrete has to be cut or removed to install the french drain system, and it will require machinery. Guess what that is more labor-intensive that will add to the cost.

Cost of French Drain Install

$3500and up
  • Professional French Drain Installation
  • Free Virtual or On-site Appointments
  • Free Consoltation

A French Drain costs start anywhere from $3500 and up per-system. The French Drain installation cost will vary depending on the following factors:

  • Pool equipment
  • Utility lines,
  • Lawn sprinkler systems
  • Patios
  • Driveway
  • Trees
  • Shrubbery
  • Fences
  • Size, Length, and depth
  • Permit

Have any questions? Speak to our friendly staff and call us at (713) 396-3320

French Drain Installation Contractor Coverage Area

If you are looking for a French Drainage installation, you have come to the right place. Most important, we are specialist and install drainage landscaping in a daily basis. By all means, please check out our service area page on the bottom of the page. Houston Landscape Pros has limit service area, to see if we do free estimates in your area.

If you would like to book an appointment, please call us at (713) 396-3320

French Drain Coverage Area