How to Install a Rain Drain

Updated April 17, 2017

If you are a homeowner, it is in your best interest to keep your property value as high as possible. Keeping your property value up will require a lot of maintenance. Rain can often cause issues in homes in a variety of ways. Excessive rain can cause damage to your basement and foundation of your house if it does not drain properly. If you are experiencing draining problems in your home, you can install a rain drain in your yard that will help filter excess water away from your basement and foundation.

Layout your drain. Using a tape measure, measure four to six feet out from your house and into your yard. Mark this spot by placing a shim in the ground. Then, from that shim, measure six inches over and mark that spot with another shim. This represents the width of your rain drain. Next, mark the six-inch width of your drain every foot with another set of shims until you make your way to the lowest part of your yard. Then measure from the beginning and end of your drain system and write down how long your system is.

Dig your trench. Using a shovel and a pair of gloves, dig a 24-inch deep trench that follows the shim layout from step one. Place the dirt you remove in a wheelbarrow and find another part of your yard, perhaps the garden, where you can reuse the excess soil.

Compress the soil in the trench. Using a 6-foot-long 4x4 piece of wood, compress the soil at the bottom of the trench so it is relatively flat and firm.

Fill the trench with two inches of washed gravel. While wearing gloves, evenly disperse two inches of gravel throughout the entire length of your trench. It is important to lay out this gravel prior to installing the drain pipe because this layer of gravel will serve as a buffer for the pipe.

Drill holes into your PVC pipe. Purchase enough 4-inch PVC pipe to fill the length of your drain system and then, using a 1/16-inch drill bit and a power drill, drill a two lines of holes a foot apart down the length of your PVC pipe. The holes should sit on the same side of the PVC pipe so that they can both face downward to drain out excess water.

Lay your pipe in your trench and fill the trench with gravel. As you lay your pipe, face the drilled side of your PVC pipe toward the ground. this will help the pipe drain water more efficiently away from your house and place it back into the ground. Then fill the trench with washed gravel up to one inch from the top of the trench.

Cover the trench with sod. Because your gravel trench will most likely serve as an eyesore, it is recommended that you cover your trench with sod. Use the shovel to cut out pieces of sod that fit the size of your trench and, using gloves, install the sod on top of the trench.

Things You'll Need

  • Gloves
  • Shovel
  • Tape measure
  • Shims
  • Wheelbarrow
  • 6 foot 4x4
  • Washed gravel
  • 4-inch PVC pipe
  • Power drill
  • 1/16-inch drill bit
  • Sod
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About the Author

Noah Kain began writing in 2008 for Baltimore Metromix, reviewing restaurants, music and national politics. In 2010 he had three poems published in "Stevenson University's Spectrum Literary Magazine" and has also recorded albums and toured with his band, Mother Nature's Son. Kain graduated from Stevenson University with a Bachelor of Science in interdisciplinary studies and a focus in English and film.