I need advice on a French drain I am building on my property. I have 2 low spots behind the house near my deck that become water puddles when it rains. I am planning to build a 60ft French drain with a catch basin starting at the low spot by my deck all the way to the start of my driveway next to my house. I have two concerns about this design and I wanted some expert opinion:

  1. The French drain will have to be really close to the side of my house (~ 3ft) for a 15ft stretch until I can daylight it. Should I be concerned about water seeping through the French drain and into the soil next to my foundation? The French drain will be on a gravel bed and I am concerned that under low precipitation water would just seep through the gravel into the soil.

  2. My second concern is about the discharge location. We live in an area where it drops below freezing for most of the winter. Would this discharge become ice on my driveway? If so, how can I avoid it? Unfortunately I can’t go any further away from my driveway as I only have 2 feet between my driveway and my neighbours' yard.

Advice and suggestions are appreciated!!

french drain design

  • What's on the neighbor's side of the property line? I expect some of this collected and redirected water will end up on your neighbor's property, in which case you'll also likely be responsible for any damage caused on their property from your runoff, since it is not the natural flow. Commented Aug 3, 2023 at 15:42
  • Is there a swale or a ditch at the road edge, or is it sidewalks? You might need to dig a substantial dry well for the discharge location, run it to the ditch or swale, or connect to the stormwater system. And at least around here you'd need a permit for this work. Also when you're digging down next to the foundation, if it's not water proofed from the outside, fix that while it's exposed.
    – KMJ
    Commented Aug 3, 2023 at 16:00
  • @NuclearHoagie it will end up on my driveway and partially on the side of their front-yard, all their downspouts discharge their anyways so I don’t think they care. The area between our properties is pretty low so It could be considered a swale. Commented Aug 3, 2023 at 19:47
  • So build a french drain in the back yard, using perforated pipe. Use solid pipe (and no french drain) once you've turned the corner to the side of the house.
    – Huesmann
    Commented Aug 4, 2023 at 13:09
  • @Huesmann I was actually thinking about this, is this possible? Any things I should put into consideration if I do this? Commented Aug 5, 2023 at 20:20

1 Answer 1


Should I be concerned about water seeping through the French drain and into the soil next to my foundation?

Obviously water runs downhill, or on the path of least resistance, or whatever, so yes, it can depart the drain. However, it's common for drain tile circuits to run along foundations. That's not likely to be a problem (or at least a new problem), since if your drain is collecting water there's already water down there.

Would this discharge become ice on my driveway?

Well, sure. You'll have to direct the output so it doesn't accumulate on your driveway. You don't need us to tell you that. This may require a new swale in the grade along the driveway. If you find that difficult you may nee to rethink your output location or the overall strategy.

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