To build a French drain, dig a trench to hold a drainage pipe, and cover the pipe with layers of gravel, landscape fabric, sand and topsoil. You need a shovel, gravel, landscape fabric, a drainage pipe at least 6 feet in length, sand, topsoil, turf and landscaping stones.
- Dig a trench
Determine a location for your drain, and decide the direction in which the water must drain. Use a shovel to dig a trench that is at least 6 inches wide, and no deeper than the surrounding foundation.
- Add the gravel and landscape fabric
Use the gravel to create a 3-inch high bottom layer in the trench. Lay landscape fabric on top of the gravel layer, and ensure that 10 inches of fabric remains on either side of the trench.
- Lay down the drainage pipe, and add another layer of gravel
Lay down the drainage pipe along the layer of landscape fabric. Place another layer of gravel on top of the drainage pipe until the pipe is entirely submerged in gravel. Ensure that a 5-inch high clearance remains within the trench.
- Fold leftover landscape fabric, and layer with sand and topsoil
Take the leftover landscape fabric on either side of the trench, and overlap them atop the drainage pipe. Add a layer of sand, then add a layer of topsoil.
- Add turf and landscaping stones
Hide the trench and much of the drainage pipe with a layer of turf. Lay landscaping stones around the exposed end of the drainage pipe.