How to Remove Standing Water in Your Yard with a French Drain

Standing water in your yard is an eyesore and can act as a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Installing a French drain is a great way to remove standing water from your yard.

To construct a French drain:

  • Dig a trench in your yard where water is standing.
  • Add a bed of pea gravel to the bottom of the trench.
  • Wrap a perforated, flexible, plastic landscape pipe with landscape fabric, or use pipe that is ready made for use in a French drain.
  • Position the pipe in the trench so the top is below ground level.
  • Leave one or both ends of the pipe open so the water can drain away.
  • Cover the sides and top of the pipe with more pea gravel.

Watch this video to find out more.

Further Information


  1. we have a spring coming up in a gravel driveway. We have dug a trench and have 4″ drain pipe with holes and a sleve to cover it. We plan to but an inch of gravel in the bottom of the trench, and then place the pipe in the trench. My question is should the holes in the pipe be placed up, down or sideways? The stone dealer said up and the man at Lowes said down. Thank you for addressing my question. Nuella

  2. The holes go up so the water will go down into the holes and be carried away in the up-perforated bottom of the pipe. If it were put in holes down the water would just sit in the trench.

    • Hi, Lonnie,

      Danny says, “Since clay does not absorb water, you would need to remove a “trench” of clay and replace it with small gravel or coarse sand to allow the water to drain properly with a French drain system.”

      Good luck!

  3. We have a double wide home and the area out back is very close to the home (cement slab) however, the top of the yard is all downhill and when it gets to the bottom ( small path next to home) everything drains there and literally pools there creating a huge bog like area! its disgusting and I haven’t found a way yet to drain it or keep it drained as that is also where we have the septic system there…

    • Hi, Jerry, features home improvement advice from the nationally syndicated TV show “Today’s Homeowner” and its experts.
      We don’t offer information on individual home builders and suppliers, but we encourage checking your local phone listings for this information.
      Good luck, and thanks for your question!

  4. We had put in a french drain in the backyard to the tune of 1,000″s of dollars worked great til my neighbor put in an in ground pool with lots of bricks and concrete my backyard is now a swamp…I can’t afford to have a landscaper, but I am willing to try fixing it myself…any recommendations

  5. I enjoy all your information. However, I would like to know how to get water from making it down to my exterior wooden door frame in my basement where I have a cider block wall. I have a patio connected to most of it except on one side of my exterior bilco basement doors. I only have about a foot of the patio connected to that one side. On that side it’s surrounded by grass up against my foundation walls. I don’t have any other water problem except that corner where it’s making it down to the connection of my block wall. Please give me some advice. Thanks.

  6. Neighbour water draining unto my land. She raised the backyard and the water flowing into my yard. My yard is like a swamp. What can I do I live on a social security check? What is the best suggestion as what to do

  7. Do you rent a trencher or recommend doing so if you are a lady? I think Inised one before along time ago and that is why I’m asking. I just need to have small pea gravel delivered, buy a 4” flexible hose, French drain and sleve and ______________? What else do I need to buy to put a French drain in.
    How far down should the trench be besides the 1/2” for pea gravel and then 4” flexible pipe ( what kind do you recommend?)?
    Right now water stands in the back yard all the time. Not sure how to drain that water so I can get a trencher out there or man power back there if I can use trencher for digging a long area for this project.

    Can the end of the French drain end up to spill out excess water onto a garage driveway. It’s the only way in an L shape house with French and not have to dig a really long area to side street and front pavement to public road.
    Any thing you can help me with; I’d sure appreciate it.
    Thanks for brainstorming with me as I’m planning.
    Sincerely thanks so much,
    Mary Baxter

  8. This is an awesome video. How does one deal with the 1/8 inch or so level of water left standing at the bottom of the trench still remaining a few days after the rain event is over? This water will not drain since it is only 1/8 or so high, and will leave the dirt at the bottom of the trench damp. Obviously damp dirt is specific to crawlspace french drains and of no concern for an outside french drain.

    Oakland, CA (on a hillside house)

  9. Please I need help! I just built, im a single female and a senior! There is a wet weather spring under the house! Please what should I do? Pumps just aren’t pumping fast enough and muddy water is seeping from foundation into garage floor.

  10. We have standing water in our yard after a heavy rain since our next door neighbor installed a French drain in his yard. What is the best stone to use under and around a French Drain we plan to have installed?
    One contractor says he will use lime stone and the other river stone, or is there no difference.

    • Hi, Lauren!
      We avoid using terms like ‘best’ because numerous options are available.
      But granite or river gravel should do the job.

  11. I had a similar related question , neighbors built up their land now I have a swamp in my backyard will the trench fixed that issue

    • Hi, Jennifer,
      For this to work, your property should not be lower than the surrounding areas. Now, if property surrounding yours is below the grade, go for it.
      Good luck!

  12. I installed a patio but to get the correct slope, the end of the patio is several inches below the yard and I dont have any fall to the end of my property. How do I address the water that is sure to collect at the edge of my patio?

  13. A french drain not surrounded by good fabric may last a while, but it can fail quickly in certain soils. Digging the trench is the hardest part, so give your french drain the best reliability by lining the trench with a good geo-textile fabric, (not cheap garden weed fabric), to let water in but keep soil out, then add pipe and clean stone.

    Wrap the fabric around the top to enclose the pipe and stone. No contaminants get in this way. The drain will never plug unless roots get in. Put a few inches of decorative stone or soil/grass over the top. Don’t use a sock around the pipe itself. They often do more harm than good.

  14. One comment says the pipe holes go up. That is incorrect. The perforated holes always point down. Water collects at the bottom of the trench then rises into the pipe. Holes at the top means the trench has to fill much higher before the pipe takes the water away. As long as the trench and pipe have downward slope, the water will flow away instead of leach out the holes.

  15. When you lay your PVC pipe, the rows of holes should always be facing the downward position. You want to keep the water level in your French drain as low as possible at all times, and you can’t achieve this if the holes are facing upwards or sideways.


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