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How To Install A Garden Drainage System

How To Install A Garden Drainage System

. 4 min read

Water availability is a major problem most garden owners face when trying to create a garden. If you are lucky enough to detect the problem before curating the garden, it's easier to add a drainage system to channel excess water from the garden.

However, if you have plants growing already in the garden before finding out about the excess water, it can become a huge problem, especially if you don't know what to do. But not to worry, this article got you covered! Continue reading below to see how to install garden drainage and save your garden in no time!

How to Install A Garden Drainage system

Installing a garden drainage system might be expensive if you don't know anything about drainage systems. However, it doesn't have to be so because a drainage system is simply any method put in place to get rid of excess water from your garden.

There are different ways to install an effective garden drainage system. These drainage methods vary because there are different types of drainage systems that you can choose from. What should inform your choice should be the nature of water distribution in your garden.

Here are some of the most popular garden drainage system you would come across and how to install them.

  1. Surface Drainage: This type of drainage system is constructed to run on the surface of your garden. They usually are made of ditches dug in parallel patterns to the direction of the flow of water.

A typical example of such ditches is simple ditches, which you can do yourself by digging a hole along a slope to contain runoffs.

The primary reason for digging the ditches is to allow them to act as a temporary reservoir of excess water till it's transferred into a central drain.

  1. Subsurface Drainage: As the name implies, a subsurface drain is done beneath the topsoil's surface and is perfect for gardens with excess underground water. This method of drainage removes excess water from the root level of plants.

An example of this is the French ditch. French ditches are a little more complicated than the simple ditches because it requires digging and installing pipes underground, channelled into a large drain collector.

  1. Slope Drainage: This method of drainage system installation is quite technical and has to do mainly with the garden's topography. This drainage concept requires you to create a downward slope drain that allows water to flow in a predetermined sloppy pattern into a reservoir. To achieve this, the pipes are installed in an inclining position to enable the water to flow through the pipe to the reservoir's location.
  2. The Gutter systems: This method seems to be the most common drainage system in communities that experience heavy downpours. If your garden is located in an area with heavy rainfall, you may have to consider using the gutter drainage system.  

Most gutter drainage systems make use of a downspout to empty the water flowing into the drainage system. Installing a gutter system involves creating a sidewalk like space for excess runoff water to pass through.

General Tips On Installing Garden Drainage System

1. A Wide Digging Space

The first mistake most people make when installing a garden drainage system is to underestimate the amount of space necessary to channel excess water from the garden.

The simple logic behind installing a drainage system is that the larger the surface area of water flow along a drainage path, the easier it is to direct water flow. A narrow drainage space leads to a problem of manoeuvrability of water as it flows along the route you dug.

Bottom line, dig a wide space that will allow water to flow easily and your pipes to be easily directed if you plan to use a pipe. Otherwise, your drainage might get clogged, and you may end up having to dig all over again.

2.  Get a Trencher for Accuracy

The next practical tip is to get a mechanical trencher. Most people try to dig the hole for the garden drainage mechanically using hoes and diggers. The challenge with digging mechanically is that it’s hard to get the exact measurements using crude tools.

Digging a drainage system requires precision. You’ll need to get the exact measurements for depth, length, and breadth for the holes. This is why you should get a trencher to ensure you get accurate measurements.

3. Use Gravel (before installing pipes)

some drainage system would require the use of pipes to direct the flow of water. If the type of drainage system you are installing requires that you pass a pipe across a pre-dug area in your garden, it is advisable that you fill the pre-dug space with gravel before installing your pipes. This will save you from recurring leakages in the future.

4. Pay Attention to the Slope of your Drainage

It is obvious that water almost always flows downward. This fact should guide you as you work on installing your drainage system.

You should make your drainage system slope downward. This slope will ensure that your drainage system is not flowing against gravity and the force of water currents.

5. Reservoirs

Most garden owners seeking to create a drainage system overlook this critical component of drainage system installation. A reservoir is a large space that can hold water either temporarily or permanently. Every drainage system will need a reservoir in the cause of channelling water off your garden.

As you plan your drainage system, also include a reservoir in your plans so that the waters directed from the garden will have somewhere to go. Your pipes will also have somewhere to be connected to and won’t cause water problems elsewhere.

6. Call in the Professionals

Sometimes the needs of your space exceed your DIY capabilities. In this case, it’s best to call in a professional for your project. They can consult with you and even create a custom drain system that is just right for your space.
Professional drainage installation might be your best bet. These experienced contractors can ensure your drains are properly installed and functioning at their best. This is especially helpful if you are working around objects like patios and pool decks.

Do Your Research To Know The Best Drainage System to Use

There is a lot to installing a drainage system than just digging holes in the ground or running pipes. You will need to pay attention to the topography and the soil’s water retention capacity in your garden. Once you have this figured out, you can then follow the tips provided above.

However, if you are still confused about what to do, try to get a professional landscaper to help you determine the best drainage system that will perfectly fit your garden and how to install them.


Part of the expertEasy team in Melbourne. Mark is a keen gardener, a DIY addict and a father of two beautiful girls. He is originally from Perth and is a true Eagles fan.