Vertical French Drain: Best Way to Build and Cost

Searching for some helpful tips to build a vertical french drain? Never worry; we’re here to help.

In the home, drainage systems are crucial because they make it simple to dispose of wastewater. Modern construction practices incorporate a way to channel wastewater from house foundations. In many cases, the drain usually runs along a long pipe laid horizontally across the compound. However, how do you go about a drainage system with little space in the yard? Your best option in this situation is to build a vertical french drain.

Like traditional french drains, a vertical french drain prevents erosion and standing water in your compound. Vertical french drains are almost the same as horizontal french drains. However, the major difference is that vertical french drains are channeled vertically into the ground, while the regular french drains run across the yard in pipes. With the average cost of installing a french drain being around $5,000, let’s look at how you can build an efficient vertical french drain.

Can a French Drain be Vertical?

Yes, a French drain can be vertical. This is done by digging a vertical hole with a digger, auger, or shovel and connecting the flow pipe to the dug hole. The hole is then filled with gravel up to some inch and landscape fabrics.

This form of drainage system is known as the vertical French drain. Wastewater from the system is channeled to the drainage and it sinks into the soil and spread out.

Tools Required for Building a Vertical French Drain

Before delving into the building process, let’s look at the tools you’ll need to effectively build a vertical french drain.

  • Landscape fabric – This holds back the surrounding soil
  • Hand tamper – For compressing the pea gravel in the vertical french channel
  • Wheelbarrow – For moving and pouring the sand and pea gravel
  • Auger – For making deep drainage
  • Perforated pipe – For handling overflows coming from the house
  • Shovel – It helps for digging the drain line
  • Catch basin drain tile – For the base of the vertical french drain
  • Sand or pea gravel – Helpful for the inside drainage holes

How to Build a Vertical French Drain

Creating a channel for your home wastewater through a French drain is an easy DIY process and Yellowcarpets is here to walk you through the process.

Summarily, these are the process involved in building a vertical French drain in your home:

  • Locate the place to construct the drain
  • Dig the ground for the flow channel to the drainage system point
  • Dig the drainage system deep
  • Add landscape fabrics to the deep
  • Pour pea gravel into the deep
  • Lay flow pipes to the drainage system deep
  • Cover the flow channel and drainage with pea gravel and soil
Proceed on comprehensively understand the steps in building a DIY French vertical drain
  1. Locate the best part of the yard to construct the drain

Usually, the best part of building a french drain is where water pools in your compound. Dig the drain about 20 feet away from the house foundation, so you’re safe.

  1. Dig the Ground for the flow channel to the Drainage System point

Start digging the ground leading to the drain with your shovel. This is the channel through which the wastewater will flow before reaching the french drain. Ensure you dig about 8 -12 inches down the ground for the channel. You should dig a bit deeper and wider as you get closer to the dry well.

  1. Dig the Drainage System Deep

Now, when you’re at the vertical french drain location, start digging with your shovel and dig as deep as you can till you can’t go any further. Ensure the width of the drain is between 1 and 4 feet. You can use your auger to dig down some more feet. This increases the total drainage and allows water to flow deep underground.

  1. Add Landscape Fabrics to the Deep

When the depth is good enough, add the landscape fabric to the dug hole before filling the hole with pea gravel. The landscape fabric only has to go as far as the perforated pipe.

  1. Pour Pea Gravel in the Deep

Pour the pea gravel inside the dug hole with the landscape fabric. Build up the gravels a few inches at a time, and compact each layer with a hand tamper. Also, some stones should go into the dug channel before placing the pipe.

  1. Lay the Pipe to the Drainage System Deep

After filling the dug hole with pea-shaped gravel, lay the pipe through the already dug flow channel. Then fill up the vertical hole with the pea gravels till they’re full to the brim and level.

  1. Cover the Flow Channel with Pea Gravel and soil
Cover the flow channel and the pea gravels inside the vertical channel with the landscape fabric. While doing this, ensure it’s appropriately sealed with the fabric to prevent the soil from seeping in with time.

Add some soil to the vertical french channel and keep it level. You can install a covering that fits in with your yard’s decor, so it’s noticeable, and your folks don’t trip over it in darkness.

We advise you to line the outer part of the drain with larger stones, so there can be a natural barrier around the vertical french drain. Also, if there’s a downspout from your gutter, running a PVC pipe and water directly into the drain is a good idea rather than draining water into the compound.

Factors Affecting the Cost of a Vertical French Drain

Before Constructing a vertical French drain, you need to consider some factors to know the approximate cost of the construction and the type of drainage you will construct for your home.

Below are some of the factors you should consider before constructing a vertical French drain:

  • Size

The drain installation size is a significant factor that could affect how much you spend constructing the drain. Any vertical french drain should drain all water getting into the surrounding ground within a short period. If your residential area has much rain, you may need to construct a large drain due to the water amount. Consult a professional to help you decide the proper size of your vertical french drain.

  • Location

The cost of building a dry well also differs depending on location. Areas with more rainfall may require more costly than other locations. Also, the cost may be higher in more expensive cities due to higher labor costs.

  • Extra Drainage

Having more than one spot in your compound where water pools may require you to spend more. Also, having frequent water issues around your basement and foundation’s perimeter may mean more costs as you may need to install an extensive drainage solution. If you’re unsure, consult a drainage expert to help you figure out the ideal solution for your yard.

  • Soil Condition

Soil having many impediments like tree roots and a high clay amount may attract more expenses. This is because it may be difficult for the contractor to properly dig the soil. The longer it takes to dig the ground, the more likely your expenses will increase. In addition, ensure the contractor conducts a percolation test to determine if the french drain is suitable for the location. Sandy soils that drain well are the most suitable for vertical french drains.

What Does it Cost to Build a French Drain?

The cost of building a vertical french drain depends on several factors. If it’s a DIY project, the cost could be between $5-$50, depending on the size and materials. However, if you’re employing a handyperson, the cost could be about $50-$250 more than what you would initially spend.

For prefabricated plastic french drains, they can cost between $100-$400. While using a day laborer or gardener could cost you around $200 more. Concrete french drains are the most expensive to construct. Installation costs could be around $300 to $5,000, based on the size, design, and location.

You should note that these costs could be higher if there’s an extensive drainage problem, and a professional needs to implement the best french drain solution.


Vertical french drains are similar to regular french drains, and they’re ideal if you’ve got limited space around. While constructing the vertical french drain, ensure it’s built on solid ground with a good outer foundation. french drains are about 3ft deep, but some can get as deep as 10ft, and they must be built to accommodate the wastewater volume.

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