French Drains Make Rain, Rain Go Away!

May. 1st, 2018 by W Scott McAdam Jr.

Drainage, or storm water management, has been on our clients’ minds plenty the past couple of seasons.

One of the best solutions: the French drain pit, which can be as large as 10' long x 10' wide x 7' deep in more extreme cases of flooding. 

It is typically a hole dug into the ground down to the sand layer. Then it is filled with coarse gravel or river rock with a center drain tile to allow the pit to "breathe,” followed by installation of a weed barrier over the gravel, and wrapped up by covering the upper 12 inches of the hole with soil and turf. 

With established turf, they are invisible (except for the drain cap at the surface). A French drain collects rain water and allows it to percolate to the sand layer and disperse into lower soil profiles. 

If soils are fully saturated through all layers, some flooding problems may still occur, but they are minor and disperse significantly faster. The bottom (or subterranean) line: French drains are a fantastic way to collect and disperse storm water in relatively large volumes.

This installment of "Ask the Plant Expert" will be published in the May 2, 2018 edition of the Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and River Forest, the Forest Park Review and the Riverside-Brookfield Landmark.