Out of ten people who think they know what a French drain is, it is my experience only one of them actually will. First off, French drains have nothing to do with France. They are named after Henry French from Concord, MA in the good ole USA. They have played a significant role since the middle of the 19th century in correcting problems with standing water. There are several types of French drains. Most homeowners with a basement have one along the outside of their home’s foundation to help prevent flooding.
How French Drains Work
In a home lawn or landscape, a French drain involves digging a substantial trench along the length of where there is standing water that persists well after it rains. You line the trench with filter fabric (this allows water in but tries to keep sediment out) and fill partially with gravel. Then lay down a slotted drain pipe that is sleeved with filter fabric along the length of the trench. Finish filling the trench with gravel to within four inches or so of the surface, apply a final layer of filter fabric and finish off with topsoil. Replace the sod (or mulch if it’s in a landscaped area) you removed before digging the trench and you’re done. Piece of cake! That is, it’s a piece of cake if you can get someone else to schlep the gravel and do the digging.
The way it works is the large pore space between the gravel will draw the water, which used to puddle on the surface for days, quickly into the bed of gravel and eventually fill the drainpipe. Much of this water will percolate through the soil profile down to groundwater as it should. If there is sufficient grade, the system could be designed with an exit to a low-lying area where excess water doesn’t create problems. This will prevent your French drain from getting overwhelmed by significant rain events.
There are two drawbacks to this otherwise wonderful system though. They don’t last, no matter how careful you are with the filter fabric, sediment will eventually find a way to fill in the open space around the gravel. The average life of the French drain I described is only seven years. The second problem is cost. They are very labor-intensive to install (in other words…gravel is pretty heavy).
Why EZ-Flow Is The Superior Yard Drainage Solution
Good thing the folks at NDS had their big thinkers working on this. They developed a portable drainage system (EZ-Flow®) that solves both problems of cost and durability. My company, BG Outdoor Services, has been installing it for many years and the results have been fantastic!
With EZ-Flow® pipe, the heavy gravel is replaced by a lightweight alternative that looks like packing peanuts and is encased in a factory-sealed fabric that keeps out the sediment. When properly installed, a well-designed EZ-Flow® drainage system will give you all of the benefits of a French drain (it solves standing water problems without simply moving them to your neighbor’s lawn) that will be less expensive and last longer. Win, win.
When you experience yard drainage issues, turn to the local experts at BG Outdoor Services. We offer customized, long-term yard drainage solutions tailored to the features and needs of your property. Contact us today for a free consultation.