French Drain Systems: 3 Tips For Ensuring That The Trenches Last Longer

The average amount of rain and snow precipitation expected in the U.S. annually is approximately 30.21 inches. If you do not install drainage systems that redirect the rainwater in your lawn, yard or garden, you may deal with water damages. Fortunately, French drain systems are becoming increasingly popular. These drains are filled with gravel or rock and may contain perforated piping. The average lifespan of French drain systems is approximately 30 years; however, with these 3 tips, you can easily prolong that. 

Prevent Silting with a Wider French Drain

Standard French drain systems are about 5 to 6 inches wide, and 8 to 12 inches deep. This is the minimal size required for collecting and redirecting runoff rainwater without any overflow. However, if you want your French drain systems to last longer, then you should highly consider installing a wider drain system although it may require a bit more effort. This is because the primary cause of failure of French drain systems comes from silting of the spaces between the gravel and the clay or soil. As the water flows through the drain system, it will cause fine particles of gravel and soil, especially, to be suspended in the water, resulting in polluted water. 

Wider French drain systems last longer because they contain more gravel, which takes a much longer time to clog up. The drain system's ability to collect and also disperse the rainwater is also better. Since it takes longer for silting to happen, homeowners have more time and are encouraged to clean the drains in a more regular manner to prevent silt from accumulating. On the same note, it is crucial that the French drains have the right slope to prevent silting.

Use Landscape Cloth to Limit the Accumulation of Dirt and Dust

In addition, wrapping the piping with permeable landscape cloth is quite effective. The infiltration of unwanted soil particles will easily restrict water flow and limit the drain's systems ability to redirect water flow — especially during extremely rainy seasons. The permeable landscape cloth will prevent the accumulation of any type of sediment by ensuring that only the finest particles are able to pass through. 

The permeability of the soil can also be improved if coarser soil particles are used in the French drain systems, and when the drain systems are protected at a sub-surface level. All in all, the operational efficiency of the drainage systems will improve greatly. Most experts recommend using the permeable landscape cloth in conjunction with corrugated tubing for the best results possible. 

Keep Leaves Out with Downspout Leaf Separators 

Last but not least, leaves can easily clog up the French drain systems, especially when the leaves begin to rot and decay. Parts of the leaves at a cellular level can easily travel down the drain, clog it up, and cause sludge buildup, which can easily translate to poor water quality. To prevent this from happening, consider installing plain or fancy downspout leaf separators that will help keep the leaves out of the pipes. Only liquids, like rainwater, are permitted to pass through. 

Some of the downspout leaf separators are a lot more advanced and complex than you'd imagine. Some of these separators rely on a two stage cascade filter. Most experts recommend choosing downspout leaf separators that are made from PEX plastic, as these materials tend to last for the longest amount of time without requiring a lot of maintenance, and without degrading in condition much even when exposed to ultraviolet rays from the sun.


Properly draining your home can make a world of a difference. French drain systems are not only easy to install, but will also do the job for years upon years to come without costing a fortune. There are many different designs available that will match the style of your home, and some of these designs are extremely aesthetically pleasing, which can easily improve the market value of your home and its demand. By implementing the 3 tips mentioned above, you can prolong the lifespan of French drain systems by quite a bit.

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