How to Install Ground Drainage

Flooding, standing water and soft waterlogged areas are eyesores in a yard and signs of drainage problems. Ground drainage systems are designed to carry underground water away toward a ditch or other outlet. Installing drainage is a project you can do yourself in a weekend. Digging the trench can be labour-intensive, depending on the size of the lawn, but once complete a well-laid drainage system improves the health and appearance of an entire landscape.

Lay the path for the drainage pipes with a rope. Begin at the highest point of the yard and run the rope through the centre of problem areas. End the path at a street gutter or other outlet.

Unearth dirt along the trench to create a 6-inch-wide canal about 18 inches deep. With a shovel, curve the sides and dig down about an additional inch for every 8 feet of length. Use a bubble level to maintain a continuous slope; a quarter of the bubble should sit past the centre mark.

Pour a 6-inch layer of clean 3/4-inch aggregate over the bottom.

Set 4-inch perforated drain pipes on top of the gravel. Attach lengths of pipe with T connectors in straight sections and elbow connections on curves. Bring a sock, or filter cloth, over the pipe as you lay it. The sock lets water drain through while preventing debris particles from clogging the passageway.

Add another 6 inches of 3/4-inch aggregate over the top of the pipes to block sticks, dried leaves and other debris.

Dump soil into the remaining trench to conceal it or use mulch over garden areas. Lay grass seed over exposed soil to slow running water so it seeps into the drain pipe. If your soil is heavy clay, mix it with equal parts sand so water drains more easily.

Things You'll Need

  • Rope
  • Shovel
  • Bubble level
  • ¾-inch aggregate
  • 4-inch perforated drain pipe
  • T connectors
  • Elbow connectors
  • Pipe sock
  • Soil or mulch
  • Grass seed
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About the Author

Aurora LaJambre is a writer and editor living in Brooklyn, N.Y. For over five years she's covered topics in culture, lifestyle, travel, DIY design and green living for print and online media. Her publication credits include "WOW Women on Writing," "Six States" and She graduated from New York University in 2003 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in creative writing.