Now that the April showers have saturating your sod, you may have noticed that your lawn looks more like the land of 1,000 lakes than it does the lush, green carpet you hoped would pop up this Spring.
By installing a drainage system, you can make sure your yard is still getting the hydration that it needs without the lingering mud pit that it’s quickly becoming.
A French Drain is one of the best ways to remove standing water from your front or back yard. They’re also easy to install on your own, as long as you plan ahead and have the right equipment.
Here are a few DIY French Drain tips:
Go with a Wider Trench
Lawn experts will tell you that you’ll get better water drainage the wider you make your French Drain. Plus, it’s easier to dig out a larger area than it is a smaller, narrower one.
Use a Small Backhoe or Trencher
Attach a small backhoe or trenching attachment to your small dozer (such as your MAGNATRAC) to make the most important part of your job — the digging — easy and accurate. Your trench needs to be wide and deep enough to hold a 4” wide perforated pipe, plus an extra 4-6 inches of gravel on either side and above it. Trying to dig the area by hand — especially in muddy soil — can be a messy and cumbersome task.
Put Gravel in Your Trench Before Installing the Pipe
Gravel provides structural support while facilitating water flow, so that the drainage area can do its job without saturating the soil and creating mud. Install a couple of inches of gravel before laying the perforated pipe down into the trench, then cover the pipe up to where it’s level with the ground around it.
Check the Angle of Your Drainage Pipe
After the water accumulates inside of the French Drain, you need to make sure that it flows to another area of your property, dispersing the water elsewhere. You can even install a buried, perforated dry well if you so choose (which allows the water to slowly disperse into the soil around it.) Regardless of your decision, you need to make sure that the pipe inside of the lawn drain facilitates water movement in the correct direction.
Use Landscape Tarp Instead of a Plastic Liner
Some French Drain DIY-ers will tell you to line your trench with a plastic tarp before placing gravel or pipe into the area. Unfortunately, this blocks out water and can leave the area around the liner extra soggy. Instead, choose to use a landscaping tarp. The porous barrier allows water to flow into the trench and drain but will keep soil and gravel from mixing with one another.
Add Catch Basins as Needed
A common DIY French Drain mistake is installing one catch basin at the beginning of the trench. However, you can add additional catch basins to the drainage pipe as needed, depending on where your low spots are. This also makes it possible to have different branches coming off of your main French Drain, if you so choose. The opening to the drain doesn’t have to be large; it can be as conservative as a 4” diameter.