How to Do Drainage Installation in Gainesville, FL

The Gainesville, Fl French drain installation is a simple, yet versatile construction which can be used to drain standing water from problem areas in your yard or basement. The process is fairly simple; it just requires a little preparation and planning, the right tools and materials, and a little DIY know-how. Start with Step 1 below for detailed instructions on how to build a French drain.

Part 1 of 2: Planning and Preparation


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Part 1 of 2: Planning and Preparation

1Look at underground safety. Before building a Gainesville drainage system in a specific area, you'll want to make locate all underground cables, pipes or other installations that could make digging dangerous in that particular spot.

  • Check with your municipal or public agencies to make sure you have a free area to construct your French drain. In the United States, you can call the 811 "call before you dig" hotline, which will connect you to your local call center.[1]
  • Also be sure to plan your drainage route so it runs at least a meter away from any walls or fencing, and try to avoid any posts, shrubs or tree roots.[2]Build a French Drain Step 2 Version 2.jpg
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    Check for any zoning or runoff issues. Some municipalities have rules on whether you can build or even dig on your own property.
    • In order to get your French drain project going, you may need to contact your local government office or board of officials. It may seem crazy, but even the smallest earth-moving projects can require complicated sign-offs by local government groups. Know the regulations and covenants in your neighborhood before you start planning anything.
    • You will also need to establish whether or not your French drain would cause hardship for neighbors in terms of groundwater runoff. Running excess water onto someone else's land could lead to a potential lawsuit.
    • Ideally the French drain should runoff in a relatively unused section of land, away from any buildings, into sandy soil which allows water to pass through easily.
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    Find a downhill slope. In order to work well, your French drain needs to be constructed on a slight downhill grade. This allows water to drain away from the problem area through the force of gravity.
    • If no natural downward slope exists, you create a slope by digging progressively deeper as you work your way along the trench. Experts recommend a 1-percent grade for the French drain to be effective. In other words, you should allow for a drop of one foot per every hundred feet of drainage (roughly one inch per ten feet of run).
    • Use landscaping paint to mark out the path of your proposed trench line, then use a couple of stakes, a length of string and a string level to gauge the incline from one end of the trench to the other.[2]
    • If you're not able to figure out the right pitch for your French drain on your own, you can hire a surveyor or other professional to help pin down the right dimensions and placement for your drain. You can still do the work yourself, but you may be more secure in the knowledge that someone else has signed off on the plan.
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    Gather your tools and materials. In order to build a Gainesville, fl French drain, you'll need to stock up on a few basic tools and materials. You will need:
    • A roll of water permeable landscape fabric: this will help to keep your drain pipe clean and avoid clogging by preventing soil, silt and roots from entering the drain.
    • A perforated plastic drain: the diameter of the drain will depend on the extent of the drainage problem and the size of the trench. You can opt for either flexible drain pipe, or for rigid PVC drain pipe (which is more expensive but sturdier and easier to unclog).
    • Washed drainage gravel: the number of bags will depend on the size of your drain. Use an online gravel calculator to get a rough estimate based on the depth and width of the planned trench.
    • Tools: If you plan on digging the trench manually, you will need a shovel. Otherwise, you can rent a trenching tool or hire a backhoe operator.


Part 2 of 2: Building the Drain
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    Dig the trench. Digging the trench is the least complicated step in building a French drain, but it is the most labor intensive! Enlist the help of a family member, friend or neighbor if possible.
    • The width and depth of the drain you dig will depend on the severity of the drainage problem and the digging tool you're using. However, most standard French drains are approximately 6" wide and 18" to 24" deep.[3]
    • Trenching tools will cut wider trenches (which is ideal for more severe drainage issues) and will cut the digging time in half. However, using a trenching tool will also increase your costs as you'll need to pay for the rental and buy additional gravel to fill the larger trench.
    • The same goes for hiring someone to cut the trench for you with a backhoe, as backhoes cut very wide and deep trenches and will incur both labor and rental costs.
    • Periodically check the depth of the trench as you dig, to ensure it is consistently sloping downwards.
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    Line the trench with landscape fabric. Once you have finished digging the trench, you will need to line it with the water permeable landscape fabric.
    • Leave approximately 10 inches of excess fabric on either side of the trench.
    • Temporarily pin the excess fabric to the sides of the trench using pins or nails.
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    Add the gravel. Shovel approximately 2 or 3 inches of gravel along the bottom of the trench, on top of the landscaping fabric.
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    Lay the pipe. Place the perforated drain pipe into the trench, on top of the gravel. Make sure the drain holes are facing down, as this will ensure the greatest drainage.[4]
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    Cover the pipe. Shovel more gravel over the pipe, until there is 3 to 5 inches between the gravel and the top of the trench.
    • Then unpin the excess landscaping fabric and fold it over the layer of gravel.
    • This will prevent any debris from entering the drain, while still allowing any water to filter through.[5]
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    Fill in the trench. Fill in the rest of the trench with the displaced soil. At this point you can finish the trench in whatever way you like:
    • You can lay sod on top, reseed with grass or even cover with a layer of large, decorative stones.
    • Some people even build the drain pipe with a slight curve, so it looks like an intentional design feature upon completion.