Installing a French drain in six easy to follow steps

Finished French drain trench ready for covering
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If flooding is a problem around your home, installing a French drain is a cost effective DIY solution that will help protect your property. You don’t need to be a drainage expert to build a French drain, just a few tools and some essential know-how which you can find in this guide. 

So what is a French drain? It is a simple form of land drainage that involves a shallow ditch that runs away from the problem area into a suitable drainage area. The ditch is lined with a membrane and filled with aggregate and a pipe with holes. The water drains through the aggregate, and when it rises above the level of the pipe the water is carried away so it no longer reaches the surface. Problem solved. But before you start make sure that there are no undergrounds pipes or cables in the location you are going to dig.  

Here we tell what tools, materials and techniques you’ll need to know so you can install your own French drain.  

Steve Jenkins

Steve Jenkins is a freelance content creator with over two decades of experience working in digital and print and was previously the DIY content editor for Homebuilding & Renovating. 

He is a keen DIYer with over 20 years of experience in transforming and renovating the many homes he has lived in. He specialises in painting and decorating, but has a wide range of skills gleaned from working in the building trade for around 10 years and spending time at night school learning how to plaster and plumb.

He has fitted kitchens, tiled bathrooms and kitchens, laid many floors, built partition walls, plastered walls, plumbed in bathrooms, worked on loft conversions and much more. And when he's not sure how to tackle a DIY project he has a wide network of friends – including plumbers, gas engineers, tilers, carpenters, painters and decorators, electricians and builders – in the trade to call upon.