Another French Drain Question


Old 06-22-10, 07:46 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: USA
Posts: 114
Another French Drain Question

I just read in a previous thread about digging a French Drain and filling in with gravel. I did not want to hi-jack that thread but I have a question. I always thought that a French Drain was supposed to be tamped down, layer of gravel then a perforated pipe and then more gravel. Have I been wasting a lot of time and money by doing that? Also, if you can fill the trench in with gravel only, can you fill it about two inches or so from the top, then place some top soil and to level out and then plant some grass seed?

This would be so nice to be able to do and save this old man's back, and some coin......

Many thanks in advance for any help to keep water away from my foundation......
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Old 06-22-10, 08:56 AM
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: usa
Posts: 236
not sure which thread you reference however it probably didn't incl the use of filter cloth which we always use,,, you can't compact crushed stone ( leastways, i never could when building hgwys/runways/etc )

dig trench w/proper fall for wtr runoff - lay filter cloth - some bedding stone ( # 57, NEVER gravel ) - 4" corrugated OR pvc pipe - stone cover - sod if you must but realize any cover will reduce efficiency.
Old 06-22-10, 09:54 AM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 6,130
If you look at golf courses there usually traditional french drains that are only a narrow (6" - 12") trenches that are filled with clean rock and sand. The sand can eliminate a filter blanket is most cases. The top soil/sod thickness is usually only 2" - 3" thick to not obstruct the drainage down to the rock/sand.

They usually a series of trenches to slowly move water from low area and drain it away. No pumps are used.

These have been used for decades and most are still functioning, although course revisions have eliminated portions.

Similar drains with only short sections of clay or concrete pipe were used in many farm fields to make the soil moisture more uniform for crops. Iowa is loaded with them to permit better agricultural practices and equipment. Some trenches are spaced about a row apart. You can't get into a wet field and the seeds can rot or not germinate, so it is a economic necessity to develope some agricultural land.

The general concept goes back centuries, but I think that a man with a last name of "French" developed the modern concept with pipe and a granular filter blanket before filter mesh was made. To do the traditional, you have to know what you are doing and understand the soil properties and not want to move a lot of water quickly since the long term soil moisture is reduced and allows some quick absorption.

Old 06-23-10, 04:04 AM
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: usa
Posts: 236
always thought the term ' french drain ' came from stone masons when louis IV built his new 2 story ( fountainbleu ) paving blocks were laid to form shallow trenches which directed rainwater down to the left of the site under the hall of mirrors & filling the reflecting pools.

this may be urban legend but its better'n saying someone named ' french ' came up w/'em - scheesch

on golf courses, they're call'd ' ball collectors '

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