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A Guide for Installing a Garden Drainage System

Gardening Jobs for the Winter

Water gives life to all things living and can help you to maintain a beautiful and lush green garden. Too much of it however can be a recipe for disaster. A good drainage system stops your garden from getting waterlogged, something especially important for those of us living in the wet and grey UK.

What Will Happen If I Don’t Have a Garden Drainage System?

Without an adequate garden drainage system, your garden will flood. You will experience mould, plant rot and disease and probably the most expensive problem - building material deterioration. On the other hand, a good system will help your plants to grow properly, reduce soil erosion and nutrient loss. Systems should be durable, offer chemical resistance and be made of a robust material that can withstand both hot and cold weather.

How to Check if Your Garden Has a Drainage Problem

If you’ve moved to a new house and you're wondering whether or not you need a garden drainage system, here’s a way to check.

Start by digging a hole in the soil, roughly about 60cm deep and pour water inside. Leave it for 4 hours and return to see if it has drained. If it has, you’re in luck and have good drainage but if not, it might be worth considering to avoid any future heartache.

Types of Garden Drainage Systems

There are 3 main types of garden drainage systems - French Drainage Systems, Herringbone Drainage Systems and Piped Drainage Systems. Amongst these, the most commonly used are French Drainage Systems that are great for diverting stagnant water.

How to Install a French Drainage System

A French Drain is a sloped ditch, and their trenches are usually installed to be roughly about 15cm wide and 30cm deep. Here are 6 steps that you must follow to build one yourself:

Step 1: Mark where the main drain should sit. This should go from the highest part of your garden to the lowest.

Step 2: Create markings for where the side drains should sit. These should ideally connect to the main drain at a 45-degree angle. Please note that there should be 3-metre intervals between each side drain for clay soil and 7.6-metre intervals for loam.

Step 3: Create a lining with landscape fabric for the trenches for improved percolation.

Step 4: Now use gravel to fill the bottom of the trenches and fold the fabric on top.

Step 5: Once that has been done, you can add topsoil and dig a 1.2-metre inlet to act as a soakaway hole and fill it with a hardcore. This will help the water to percolate slowly through the soil at the lower end of the main trench.

Step 6: The last step involves connecting the centre of the soakaway hole to the main trench.


There you have it, your very own DIYed drainage system to keep your garden thriving all year round.