How to Plan for Driveway Drains

What You'll Need
100 Foot Tape Measure
Grade Transit
Landscape Paint

Installing driveway drains will help keep the water away from the driveway during the spring season or heavy rains. These drains are important to keep the overall integrity of the driveway intact so they do not crack, have heaves, or fall apart as the ground sinks. Planning for driveway drains does take some time, some research, and plenty of measurements. Here is a short guide for how you can plan driveway drains for your new yard.

Step 1: Determine Best Position for Driveway

Before you begin planning out the drains for your driveway, you should make sure of the exact position of the driveway. For good drainage, an upward slope is the best. That does not mean that you need a steep grade for your driveway. A flat area with a small incline will work best. If you already have a driveway but need to redo it, then you will need to make sure you add some extra material in the planning.

Step 2: Take Measurements

Measure across the driveway at both the top and the bottom of the area. After you have this measurement, then you will need to measure the length of the driveway. This will help you figure out the surface area that you are working with and the amount of drains that will be needed. 

Step 3: Measure Grade of Driveway

A transit is a device that is used to help measure the grade, or the height, of a landscape. They can be rented for about $60 a day. To use one, you set up a tripod and place the transit on the top. Someone else will hold up a tape measure or measuring stick on the area where you want to know the elevation. By looking through the transit, you can record the measurement. As the person moves along, you will see the different elevation. Use the transit from the bottom of the driveway to the top and record the measurements. 

Step 4: Plan for Grade of Driveway

With the measurements from the transit, you should have a clear picture of the way that your driveway is sloping. You should see what is needed to add an incline, remove any small hills in the middle, or remove material for a smoother slope. 

Step 6: Mark Location for Drains

The drains are going to be either small ribbed tubes that look much like culverts, or PVC pipes. They will have some holes in them for water to seep into them from the overlying soil. They should be located on the sides of the driveway as well as every 6 feet. If you have a wide driveway, you may need to have several of these drains. Mark the location on a blueprint as well as on the ground with landscape paint.

Step 7: Mark Runoff Area

The driveway drains need to drain the water to another location. You should plan for a small rock field underground or to tie into the local city drains. Mark these locations on your plan as well as on the ground.