Clearing Out Standing Water

clearing standing water header

Standing water forms in gullies that are surrounded by areas of higher elevation. They act as a bowl by collecting rainwater, which then stagnates in the sun and becomes a breeding ground for mosquitoes. The more mosquitoes you have in your yard, the more you risk exposing your family to West Nile. Additionally, standing water can kill grass and other plants, ruining your landscape. A French drain can be used to divert this water elsewhere, creating a dry, usable surface.

Before installing anything in your yard, check to make sure you won’t be violating any local building codes or regulations. The first step to installing a French drain is locating an area to which the water can be diverted. This area must be lower in elevation than the standing water.

Obviously, you want to avoid creating another standing water puddle, so find a low-lying ditch or gravel pit at least 20 feet from your house’s foundation to which you can divert the water. Alternatively, you could channel the water to the street gutter or a place requiring irrigation, such as a flowerbed

Make sure the place where the water will be collected is lower in elevation than the standing water and that the ground is sloped away so the water flow is guided by gravity. Then:

  1. Use a shovel or trench digger to make a trench between the standing water and drain exit, ensuring a downward slope the whole way. A trench digger is fast and inexpensive to rent.
  2. Fill the trench with a bed of coarse gravel (crushed stone between ½” to 1”, with no pea-size pieces so as to not clog the perforations in the pipe).
  3. Install a perforated drain pipe or perforated with a sock drain pipe on the bed of gravel.
  4. Bury the pipe with the same size coarse gravel; you can then cover the gravel in topsoil. The pipe should rest under about four inches of gravel.
    French Drain picture (2)
  5. For yards with multiple areas with standing water, you can tie lines together using T/Y couplers and fittings.


Result: Water is diverted from the gully, keeping it standing water free and allowing proper drainage during rainstorms; your grass and landscaping are preserved and mosquitoes have to find someone else to bother.

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