How to Install a French Drain With Pipe

Updated April 17, 2017

The drain systems usually referred to as "French" drains were developed hundreds of years ago. The term came to mean any type of drain system that uses trenches with a layer of gravel to take water away from one area and send it in a different direction. The traditional French drain does not have pipes, but some more modern interpretations of the French drain do include a pipe.

Decide where you want the water to go. Depositing it into a neighbour's yard is never a good idea. Choose a location where the water will not create any problems.

Plan the route your drain trenches will take. Avoid big trees or areas where you know there are lots of rocks and roots. Dig the trenches, making sure they slope downhill. They should be 6 inches wide and 9 inches deep.

Lay a 2-inch layer of gravel on the bottom of your trench.

Attach a drain pipe to the drainage area where water is currently collecting. Run the drain pipe down the length of the trench to the outlet area.

Cover the trench with 2 inches of sand and topsoil; then replace your sod.


If you don't have enough topsoil to cover the trench, consider using landscape fabric, which will help prevent dirt from seeping into the gravel.


Make sure your trench follows a downward slope or else the water will not drain.

Things You'll Need

  • Trenching tool
  • Drain pipe
  • Gravel
  • Sand
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About the Author

Dan Ames has been a professional writer for nearly 20 years and has won national and international awards for creativity. He received a journalism degree from the University of Wisconsin and has been published in a variety of magazines, journals and websites, including eHow and Pluck on Demand.