French drains, named for the 19th century farmer who first used them, are a great way to dry out a lawn that floods easily. Each drain is made with a slotted pipe, installed at a downward slope to allow for proper drainage. It can seem like a simple task to install the drain, but making mistakes can render the drain useless and cause other problems. Here are some mistakes to avoid making when installing your French drain.
Not Having Lawn Utility Lines Marked
In your hurry to get the drain down, you might want to start digging a trench right away. However, even if you see no signs of utilities, you need to be aware of whether you do in fact have underground utility lines on the site where you plan to dig the trench for your French drain. A quick call to your utility companies will help you with this, as they will typically send someone out to mark the lines for you. You can then dig in a location that is safe.
Not Using Landscape Fabric
You might think that all you need to do to get your drain working is to dig a trench and drop the pipe into it. However, you have to do a little more to make sure that the site is suitable. For example, before you put the slotted pipe into the trench, you need to put landscape fabric--also called geotextile fabric--on top of the soil. This fabric will stop soil from seeping into the pipe slots and clogging your drain. If you don't use this fabric, you very well may have to dig up the pipe later and clean it out.
Installing the Drain without a Slope
In order for your French drain to work properly, you need to make sure that the drain slopes in a downward manner. Unlike some other drains, French drains use gravity to move water, so your drain's exit site needs to be lower than the wet drain field. If your yard is completely flat and there is no natural slope, it may be necessary to build a pit for a sump pump first. The pump will pump the water upward and create an artificial slope, and the water can then be directed to the French drain and be carried away.
If you can avoid making the mistakes discussed in this article, you'll be on your way to a dry lawn because of a functional French drain system. If you need help installing the drain, contact an experienced contractor to help you put the drain in.