Fix Your Foundation Before It’s Too Late

Garden Overcome With Moisture? Install a Simple French Drain System Around It

by Howard Barnett

If moisture bogs down the soil in your vegetable garden every time you water it or it rains, install a simple French drain system in it. A French drain or trench is used to guide or drain water away from a structure or location, such as your garden. Unless you plan to install a French drain around your entire property, you can do the installation yourself. Here's what you need to do and why.

Buy These Things First

The first thing you need to do is purchase your supplies. Depending on the size of the area around your garden, you need several long pieces of flexible PVC piping to drain the water and moisture away from the soil. Flexible pipes are easier to handle when you attach or join them together than rigid PVC piping. 

Use a yard stick or tape measure to obtain the length of your garden. You want the pipes to drain the entire length of the French drainage trench you dig. If you're uncertain about how many PVC pipes to purchase, ask a store representative to help you.

Now gather:

  • A shovel or similar large digging tool
  • Weeder or gardening tool to remove grass and other growth from the trench site
  • Several bags of gravel or crushed stone in colors that match the garden's theme
  • Drainage fabric to protect your pipes from mold, sun damage and other problems

You can purchase bricks or some other decorative stone to line your French drain after you complete the work. 

Prepare and Dig the Drainage Site

Use your digging tool to clear a straight path down the center of your garden. If you have good upper body strength, use your shovel to clear the location. Once you clear the area of weeds and grass, begin digging your French drain with the shovel.

The trench should be no larger than 12 inches wide to keep the PVC pipes secured in the ground. The depth of your French drain should be no more than 24 inches deep. The water will drain out of the ground and away from your garden with these measurements.

After digging your trench, cover the bottom with gravel or crushed stone to help soak up the water. Place one layer of drainage fabric over the gravel or stone. Use scissors to cut the fabric if it's too long or wide.

Place the PVC pipes in the center of the drainage fabric, then connect them together. The pipes may have connectors that you need to click or screw in place. 

Pull the sides of the drainage fabric around the joined PVC pipes but leave both ends of the pipes uncovered or open. You want the water to drain through the piping and out to other areas of the property. Fill the French drain with gravel or crushed stones. 

Your simple French drain should keep water from bogging down your garden. But if it doesn't, contact your a contractor for assistance