What is the difference between a $5,000 and $10,000 French Drain

Offering reliable landscaping services to homeowners in British Columbia since 2013

Natasha Maerz

Natasha Maerz

Owner/Office Manager

When buying a house with a yard, we envision countless get togethers with friends, evenings sitting by the fire, and sunny days spent outside watching our children play. In the Fraser Valley we value bright sunny days because sometimes it feels like we rarely get them. It can be so disappointing when we go to use our yard, and it is still water logged from the rain that happened days ago. If you have this problem, having a French Drain installed can help you regain your outdoor space back.

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Table of Contents:

A $5,000 French Drain system

  • The layout, materials and build of a $5,000 French Drain
  • The lifespan of a $5,000 French Drain
  • Maintenance of a $5,000 French Drain system
  • How quick will my $5,000 French Drain system dry up my yard?
  • Advantages of a $5,000 French Drain
  • Disadvantages of a $5,000 French Drain
  • Who is this system a good option for?

 

A $10,000 French Drain system

  • The layout, materials and build of a $10,000 French Drain
  • The lifespan of a $10,000 French Drain
  • Maintenance of a $10,000 French Drain system
  • How quick will my $10,000 French Drain system dry up my yard?
  • Advantages of a $10,000 French Drain
  • Disadvantages of a $10,000 French Drain
  • Who is this system a good option for?
French-Drain -trench- layout

There are lots of different ways a French Drain can be installed and built, and the cost of a French Drain comes down to what materials are used to build it, and what the system layout looks like. For the purpose of this article, we will be talking about a $5,000 French Drain, and a $10,000 French Drain.

A $5,000 French Drain

The layout, materials and build of a $5,000 French Drain

The layout

A $5,000 French Drain system will have 100ft of pipe, placed in the yard area that needs to see the most drainage. This layout can be one straight line, or any other shape that would cover the area that needs drainage. The French Drain system is connected to a city storm, ditch or other viable option.

The materials

Big-O drainage pipe

Black ADS brand French drain pipe (Big-o, with lime green stripe) is made up of recycled materials and has three small inlets sliced in every valley. It is flexible and quick to install, but clogs and crushes very easily, and the most used pipe locally.

Existing soil as backfill

The trench is backfilled using the existing soil that was excavated. This soil is usually clay, since yards with sandy soil do not typically need a drain put in. Using the native soil as backfill will work until the original soil compacts again. This gives you effective drainage for 2 months – 24 months.

The build

Method of installing a $5,000 French drain system:
  1. A discharge location is chosen. This is either by using a city storm drain/stormwater connection, ditch or other location.
  2. A trench is hand dug 5” deep x 4”wide.
  3. The excavated soil is put in wheelbarrows.
  4. Big-0 drainage pipe is put on the bottom of the trench.
  5. The excavated soil is put on top of the trench.
  6. Any leftover soil is either spread out on top of the yard, or taken away offsite in a pickup truck.

The lifespan of a $5,000 French drain

Most French Drains that are installed with Big-O do not have any filter fabric, and when there is no filter fabric wrapped around the drainage pipe, soil gets into the pipe and compacts. The compacted clay soil around and inside the French Drain pipe prevents water from getting into the system. Because Big-O crushes easily, it will not take long for the compacted soil to crush the pipe. Once this happens, the French Drain is unable to do its job. A system like this will last on average 2-24 months.

clogged-big-O-drainage-pipe

Maintenance of a $5,000 French Drain system

Because this French Drain system is built without filter fabric, you will have dirt accumulate and compact in your Big-O drainage pipe. This means that at least every year you will need to have a company come in and clean out the pipe, which not only costs money, but your time.

How Quick will a $5,000 French Drain system dry up my yard?

While this is answered more in depth here , a $5,000 system will take approximately 36 hours to dry out your yard. The reason it takes this long is because clay soil creates standing water on the surface of a lawn. Light soil will eventually pass water, but heavy clays will almost never allow water through it on its own. When you are backfilling with this clay soil, water will have a hard time getting into your trench.

Advantages of this system

  • Little material costs ( no fabric, round rock, top soil, or seed/sod)
  • No machine costs since the system is hand dug
  • Big-O pipe can be found at most local home improvement stores
  • Homeowners can DIY this project
  • Any leftover soil can be spread out in the lawn, or wheelbarrow loads can be taken to a pickup truck
  • The soil that will need to be disposed of will be a truck load (disposing of the soil is a big factor in cost when having a French Drain installed)

Disadvantages of this system

  • Using clay soil as backfill

If you use the same material that you already have in your yard as backfill, you will have the same water problems shortly after your system is installed. Once the soil compacts again, water will sit on the surface of your lawn, and not penetrate the ground to get into the drainage pipe.

  • Big-O pipe

Since the Big-O drainage pipe is placed on the bottom of the trench, directly on the dirt, the inlets of the drainage pipe get clogged very easily. Once the pipe is clogged, the water will become stagnant, and not be able to make it to its discharge station.

  • No fabric is used

While not using fabric cuts down on the cost of installation, without fabric in the trench, there is nothing from keeping the soil from penetrating into the pipe. Therefore, the pipe gets clogged with dirt and debris.

  • No round rock is used

Placing round rock in the trench over top of the pipe will give your system ample void space. Void space is important, because it allows the system to dry faster by allowing air movement in the trench, creating an underground drying effect.

  • The cost of this system

While this system is cheaper upfront, when it fails, it will need to be dug up, disposed of, and redone, costing more in the long run.  

Who is this system a good option for?

This system is a good option for anyone wanting to DIY a system themselves, since no machines need to be used. Anyone who wants a temporary solution to their water issues, and are on a tight budget can put this system in.

Baughman- tile- and- round- rock- in-French-Drain

The layout, materials and build of a $10,000 French Drain

The layout

A $10,000 French Drain system will have 100ft of pipe or more, depending on where drainage is needed (Remember that the more pipe that is placed, the better the system will work, and the higher the cost). This layout can be one straight line, or any other shape that would cover the area that needs drainage. The French Drain system is connected to a city storm, ditch or other viable option.

The materials

Baughman Tile Drainage pipe

Blue High-Octane pipe is purposed built French drainage pipe, and was designed for the clay soil that the Fraser Valley has. It is extremely flexible, fast to install, moves with the ground, and has an excellent crush rating.

Fabric

This system is built with tested filter fabric that “burrito” wraps the trench. Because the system is burrito wrapped, the soil cannot get into the trench, and will never clog. The tested filter fabric can pass 140 gallons per min of water, per square ft. allowing for optimal drainage, and the fabric will not slow down the water transfer.

1 ½” round rock

When backfilling with 1 ½’ round rock, your system will have an ample amount of void space due to the size of the rock that is placed in the trench. Void space in a trench is important, because the greater amount of void space that is in the trench, the quicker your yard will dry. The water that is on top of your yard is able to go through the round rock, and into the pipe, and then the pipe can take it to its discharge station.

Top soil

Top soil is placed on top of the “burrito” wrapped trench.

Seed or sod

Seed or sod is put on top of the trench to complete the system.

The build

Method of installing a $10,000 French Drain system:

  1. BC1call is called to determine where underground utility lines are.
  2. A private company marks all underground utilities. This is a very important step as you do not want to deal with the headache and cost of someone hitting a utility line.
  3. Any obstacles that will hinder machines from getting into your backyard are taken down, or moved, such as fence panels or bushes.
  4. A discharge location is chosen. This is either by using a city storm drain/stormwater connection, ditch or other location.
  5. The ground and all surrounding areas are protected with a plywood road, limiting the damage to your yard.
  6. A sloped trench is dug with an excavator 16 inches deep and 16 inches wide. The trench is sloped so once the system is installed it can help the pipe do its job by bringing water to the discharge station.
  7. The excavated soil is hauled away in a dump truck and disposed of.
  8. Double punched filter fabric is placed in the trench, lining the bottom and the sides.
  9. Baughman tile is put on the bottom of the trench, and 1 ½’ round rock is placed on top of the tile.
  10. The filter fabric is “burrito” wrapped around the entire system, and pinned together.
  11. Top soil is placed on top of the trench.
  12. The top soil is either seeded, or sod is laid on top.
  13. The plywood roads are taken away, and the grass is raked.
  14. The road and all areas that were used during installation are swept and cleaned.

The lifespan of a $10,000 French Drain

Due to its 8 massive inlets in every valley, Baughman tile drainage pipe is placed on the bottom of the trench, and there is open air exchange that can dry out the subsoil much faster than any other option of pipe. This open-air exchange actually prevents roots from getting into the system since there is no water in the trench. This type of system is built with filter fabric that gets burrito wrapped around the pipe and round rock, keeping the drainage pipe free of debris. Because the pipe is corrugated, the water passes through it, it creates ripples that actually clean the pipe and pull any sediment with it. This type of system lasts forever (50-200years).

Maintenance of a $10,000 French Drain system

This type of system has little to no maintenance.

Sump pump replacement

 If your system needs a sump pump the pump will need to be maintained once a year, and replaced every ten years. (click here for more information).

Healthy Grass

Healthy grass is a huge part of how a French Drain system works. Healthy grass roots, plants and vegetation are what help the water pass through the clay soil in your yard and into your system. Without an abundance of roots penetrating deep into the clay soil water will sit on top of the lawn regardless of any system that is put in. The roots from your lawn, and plants play a vital role in allowing this water to follow the roots deep underground and into your French Drain. So, maintaining your grass throughout the year is a necessity.

How quick will my $10,000 French Drain system dry up my yard?

A system like this will dry up your yard within 12 hours after a rain event in most cases. (Again, the more pipe that is placed in the ground, the quicker your yard will dry).

Advantages of a $10,000 French Drain

  • Your yard can be used much faster after a rain event due to the void spaces in the trench from the 1 ½” round rock
  • You will only need to have this system put in once (because Baughman tile and tested filter fabric were used)
  • If you want to expand this system (add more pipe) it is easily done
  • Your yard will be taken care of (no yard damage due to plywood)
  • When the job is done it will look like no one was there (the site will be properly cleaned up after the system is installed)

Disadvantages of a $10,000 French Drain

  • Cost is higher than other French Drain system
  • Site access needs to be able to fit an excavator to dig the trench
  • Skid steer is needed to load dump trucks
  • Not DIY friendly due to the amount of soil that needs to be hauled out, rock that needs to be hauled in, and access to Baughman tile (Not available locally).

Who is this system a good option for?

This system is great for homeowners that want to solve their water issues once and for all, and people who want to be able to use their yard quickly after a rain event. If you value not having to have a project replaced in less than two years, this is the French Drain system for you.

french-drain-installation

Whatever system you choose to put in your yard will be able to do the job of drying out your space. What you as the homeowner need to think about is:

  • How long you want your system to last
  • What type of maintenance you want to be doing for your system
  • How fast your yard will be dry after a rain event
  • What budget you have for this type of project

 

If you are ready to gain back your space click here to contact us!