What is a French Drain System and What Yard Drainage Materials are Used in Michigan?

What is a French Drain System?What is a French drain system? A lot of people ask that. They hear the term and it’s new to them. French drain system is when you take an area in your yard that collects water that’s always wet and saturated, has standing water. When you take that collection area and you go ahead and ditch it out and remove the soil, you make a nice wide trench. You fill it in with a really nice drainage stone. That’s the key ingredient.

You also want a really good drainage pipe. We use a four or eight slot perforated pipe. You can see the slots in the valley there. You can see all the perforations, all these cuts. I can fit a quarter in them. We go with a really, really nice deep wide saw cut because we use a large course rock so we can get away with that. We don’t use a sleeve or a sock over the pipe. You don’t want to do that. You don’t want to wrap this pipe. You want to wrap the stone and pipe included.  For that, you want to use a four, six or eight-ounce filter fabric. This is a geotextile non-woven is the key word here, non-woven geotextile drainage fabric. Don’t use weed fabric. Don’t go out and buy landscape fabric. It doesn’t work.

A lot of guys don’t believe in the Geo drainage fabric. The geotextile non-woven drainage fabric works just fine. They just bought the wrong stuff and had a bad experience, so when you have the wrong fabric and it’s not meant to do this job, it’s not going to drain. The water’s not going to run through it. The water runs through this fine. This happens to be our four-ounce. We’re going to move a 140 gallons per square foot per minute. That’s screaming. We’re building a screaming system here with our eight slot pipe, our four ounce geotextile non-woven fabric. And then for the downspouts were going to be running a dual wall. It’s smooth on the inside and it’s corrugated on the outside. Why is that? When it’s smooth on the inside, it cuts down on friction, so you keep up the velocity.  When you keep the velocity up, you’re gonna move more water, you’re going to move more water, you’re going to be able to evacuate the water quicker and any shingle gravel or debris will just tumble right out to the end.

Then with dual wall corrugated pipe, there is no valleys inside it. It’s smooth. That’s why it’s called dual wall. Its two pieces of pipe. You got the corrugated single wall on the outside, you’ve got the smooth inner wall and the inside. That is your dual pipe. So these are the ingredients to a good drainage system. You’ve seen the gravel, the geotextile non-woven fabric, the nice perforated pipe, and for the downspouts, you see the dual wall corrugated pipe.  Here in Michigan, it needs to survive the freeze and thaw cycles so it has some flexibility. You can see where this has a little bit of flexibility. That’s what we need here in Michigan. The ground is gonna freeze. It’s going to heave. We’re going to see all kinds of stresses on our pipes. That’s why corrugated pipe is the right pipe for the north.

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