What’s The Difference Between A French Drain And A Surface Drain?

A surface drain system.

When it comes to problems with rainwater, modern properties require a high-functioning drain. By finding a way to prevent water from gathering near the base, it’s easier to avoid having to deal with unwanted foundational damage. While it’s essential to invest in and set up a well-designed drain, it’s still important to learn about the various types available for installation. Each type has a unique set of qualities, advantages, and disadvantages that have to be kept in mind.

Two of the most common styles are – French Drains and Surface Drains.

Here’s a detailed look at what each style is all about, how it works, and which drain works best for your location and/or type of building.

What is a French Drain?

A French drain is designed to remain underground and helps efficiently remove water found below the surface. When installed, the drain has a distinct open-ended pipe that is set up out of the way. The idea is to have the water drain once it settles before letting it travel deeper into the soil and/or damage the foundation.

Concerning its appearance, a French drain can be defined as a perforated pipe set up inside a gravel-covered hollow trench. In some cases, additional or alternative porous materials are used.

The best time to use a French drain is when there’s a distinct lack of concentrated puddles or pools of water. A good French drain is perfect when water is spread throughout the area as it can easily drain the yard.

A surface drain system.

What is a Surface Drain?

A surface drain is designed to be set up as an opened-flushed drain or underground depending on the location. The idea behind this drainage solution is to make use of the slope on your land to filter water down into the basins.

This type of drain is often used when there is a concentrated puddle or pool of water as it can easily be directed into the basins. It’s important to note, this drain will only collect surface water when installed.

What is the Reason for Using These Drains?

When deciding between these drains, it’s best to think about your drainage requirements.

The average French drain will be used to work near gardens and/or a property’s foundation because it can collect a broad spread of water. This means when water starts getting settled into the ground, it can begin to drain it right away. In modern landscaping designs, these types of drains are often used in soil that’s always saturated due to rainwater or flooding.

On the other hand, a surface drain is often seen being used to rapidly filter an extensive amount of water without letting it settle. Most property owners will set up surface drains at the end of a driveway and/or sloped area allowing water to gently trickle down away from the foundation.

Which Drain Is Better?

This will depend on your location, type of property, and how the water tends to settle after a rainstorm.

Properties with saturated soil will be best-suited to go with a well-designed French drain. This will keep the garden and foundation in good shape without having to constantly spend money on water damage repairs.

While properties that are settled on a flat surface will need a quality surface drain to help remove water quickly.

For those eager to optimize their set up and make sure the drainage system works effectively, it’s also possible to go with a combination of drains. This ensures both the water on the surface and below the ground gets removed without damaging anything.

Regardless of what a property owner decides to go with, it’s essential to have a professional company set it up for you. A well-designed and engineered drain is going to make all the difference in the world without getting in the way. Take the time to understand what each drain has to offer and how it’s going to work with your property’s layout.

When used correctly, both types of drains are effective at delivering results and keeping properties safe.

To learn more about the different types of drains and which one is best for your property, please take the opportunity to give Greenville Landscaping a call at 864-635-2560 or by filling out an online form. We are equipped to offer a customized drain that will yield impressive results and keep your property safe year-round.


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