French drains are a great way to manage water accumulation or intrusion. Surface and subsurface water can quickly become a problem when it begins to pond or flow into a property. Erosion, murky/muddy soil that never dries up, water intrusion into homes and structural problems are a few of the problems that result from uncontrolled surface and subsurface water. A very effective way to manage these types of water accumulations is to install French drain systems. These are sub-surface drains that consist of perforated pipes and are protected by gravels and geotextile fabrics. They allow water to flow in and keep debris and soil out to keep the pipes from clogging. The water is then diverted by solid pipes to exit away from the house or property. Subsurface drains have been in use for centuries to manage surface and sub-surface water.
There are different types of French drains that can be installed depending on the desired effect and appearance of the final product. Some French drains are installed in lawn areas to help dry out the muddy mess that occurs with standing water in the grass. Once the drains are installed, they are covered back up with soil and grass to keep the original look and functionality of the lawn while drying the area out. These French drains under the lawn and grass areas constantly move water from accumulating in these problem areas and restore the lawn to a healthy state where it can thrive and not drown. It also stops bare areas from forming which allow weeds to grow and proliferate.
Another type of French drain is the open-trench design which is highly functional at quickly moving surface water flow away. This type of French drain is installed in areas where water flows or ponds at a faster rate and river stones or river gravels are placed on top of the pipes to create a very porous opening to the drains. These allow water to quickly flow into the pipes, making them great systems to be installed near fences and along planter beds where they form an aesthetically desirable border while being highly functional water management systems. On some occasions we will design a hybrid system where we install open-trench French drains along fences and borders connected to subsurface lawn French drains to achieve a dry, well managed property.
French drains are used both in residences, commercially and in large applications such as HOA common areas, schools, and churches. Some of our clients such as track and sports fields use French drains to control pooling water and are covered with lawns that keep water from pooling so the show can go on. We have installed French drains in churches, community pool lawn areas and anywhere pooling water or surface and sub-surface water is a problem. We are commonly contracted by HOAs to install these drains behind fences and in common areas where water flows out from individual yards and create small streams of flowing water. By using river gravels and sod we are able to effectively control the surface water and still allow for significant foot travel without them being noticed. No area is too large or too small for us to install a French drain in.
Interior French drains are basement drains connected to sump pumps. They function much like exterior French drains, but instead of being installed in the soil or under grass in the yard, they are installed under the concrete in a basement. We connect those to sump pumps inside the house and cement them over so they are not visible. Once water has come through a wall, or gone under a slab, we capture it with interior French drains and send it out of the house. These work the same way as exterior French drains, but mainly address subsurface water in walls and foundations and act as a management system by pumping water up and out of the house once it has entered.