Rain Gutter Systems:
Sending Your Runoff Underground

Controlling and directing all of your home’s rain gutter system and rainwater runoff can be quite a challenge. You must be meticulous in planning and constructing a system of gutters that completely surrounds the sloped portion of your roof. Then, you must route these gutters to their respective downspouts. But if the rainwater winds up pooling in a flowerbed, puddling on your lawn, or splashing near your foundation, all of your painstaking effort will be wasted.

There is one solution that maybe you haven’t considered: sending your runoff rainwater underground.

An effective rain gutter system and an underground drainage system can guide rainwater away from your foundation (where it can do substantial damage) and disperse the water back into the soil gradually and easily. Say goodbye to pools, puddles, and standing water.

The most common way to get your runoff off of your lawn and underneath your yard is by constructing a French drain. A French drain is actually a network of pipes laid in trenches dug beneath the ground through which runoff water will flow. This structure can be attached to your downspouts and will work seamlessly with your existing rain gutter system.

The first step in building a French drain is to map out where the trenches must be dug and where the pipe’s termination point will be (preferably an alley, curb, or storm drain). Make sure that these trenches do not cross any electricity, telephone, cable, or plumbing lines. Also, the pipes must be placed so that the water runs downhill — away from your home. This may require re-sloping the ground in certain places (as a last resort, you can install pumps at certain junctions of the French drain).

When your yard is “shovel-ready,” dig the trenches about eight to twelve inches deep and wide. You might have to take out more dirt in some areas in order to maintain a downhill slope. Then, cover the bottom surfaces of your trenches with rocks, gravel, or shells (and perhaps even some permeable landscape fabric).

When you have finished, place lengths of rigid PVC pipe into the trenches. The pipe must be perforated on the bottom to allow the water to drain into the surrounding soil. Connect your downspouts to the pipe ends so that the rainwater cannot leak as it passes from your gutters to the underground pipe. After all of your pipe has been laid, cover it with another layer of gravel, hells, or rocks before replacing the dirt.

Voila! Your runoff will now flow down your roof over your gutter guards into your rain gutter system, through the downspout, into your underground pipe, and out of your yard. Your rainwater will be out of sight and away from your house!