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4 French Drain Alternatives

Workers building up a wall and PVC pipes for drain system.

A French drain is an underground trench filled with stones and topped with sand and can even be covered with lawn, shrubs, or a flower bed. It’s designed with the primary purpose of channeling water away from the house, reduce flooding, and prevent waterlogged soil and erosion.

This landscaping solution is ideal when there are shallow waterlogged areas in your yard or it’s impossible to build a sloped landscape for drainage. On the same vein, there are other more suitable and practical solutions to diverting runoff depending on your land surface.

Be sure to get your property fully evaluated to determine the best type of drainage system for your home. You can also scroll down below for French drain alternatives.

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1. Valleys

Valleys are a French drain alternative that will work very similarly to how a French drain does. You see, a French drain is basically a trench with pipes that can help to drain water, diverting it away from a particular area. A valley is going to work the same way, but it isn’t going to use the pipes. This is a natural way to allow the water to run off towards somewhere else.

Keep in mind that using a valley is not going to be quite as good as using a French drain in some ways. French drains work faster than valleys when it comes to draining water. If you have a property that is constantly flooded, then you might not get the results that you want from a valley. It won’t drain the water as fast, but it can still be very practical for areas with occasional flooding problems.

People often use valleys to divert water into wooded areas or some type of nearby body of water. Whether or not you can do this largely depends on the layout of the land and where you are located. You can alter your landscape to create a valley, but it may take a little bit of work. Sometimes this isn’t going to be worth doing, but you should certainly consider a valley if you are already interested in the idea of a French drain.


This is a convenient natural way to replicate what a French drain can do. This uses gravity and the layout of the land to your advantage. If you don’t have an area that is conducive to creating a valley, then it may be difficult to make use of this method. Even so, it is something that works well for many people who need help with drainage.


Creating a valley to help with drainage isn’t going to be the most practical solution for many people. Some people have properties that just aren’t going to work well with a valley. Depending on how the land is laid out, it may not work out as easily as you would like. You may need to consider other options if a valley just isn’t going to work out for your home.

2. Adding Steps

Another good French drain alternative is to simply add some steps. You can put steps on your property to help with the drainage. This is actually going to be a similar method to the valley idea mentioned above. The idea is to simply allow the water to drain downwards by making use of the steps. You can actually avoid some of the problems with soil erosion by using steps properly.

Steps are going to have many flat spots where water can sit a bit before sliding down. It won’t all slope down at once to the soil below. This can potentially help you to avoid severe puddling and large muddy areas. To add to this, steps have the potential to look really nice and can be a great thing to add to your property.

It should also be noted that some people choose to add steps to a slope that already exists on their property. It can help to prevent the large puddles that are mentioned above. If you decide to do this, then it will take a little bit of extra know how. Even so, it isn’t going to be too onerous and you will be happy with the results when you are finished.


Installing some steps won’t be overly difficult and it will wind up looking really good. You can use the steps to help you drain the water downwards. This will keep it away from your home and other areas that you don’t want to be plagued with standing water. There are many different styles of steps that you can make too, so it’s possible to get creative and add a really neat feature to your home.


Depending on how your property is laid out, it may not be practical to use steps to get rid of the water. If you are in need of a French drain alternative, you might not have enough space to drain the water down to somewhere that it can’t harm. In this case, you’ll need to think about methods that don’t involve sloping the water away from your property. It might be a little annoying to not be able to use a good method such as this, but you have to find out what is practical for your specific situation.

3. Dry Wells

Interior view of an old brick dry well.

A good dry well is going to be capable of holding a lot of water for you. If you really want to get rid of your water problem, then installing a well is the smart way to go. You’ll be able to have the rain funneled into the well and it can then be put in an underground storage system. People who have to deal with significant flooding in their yard often decide to go this route.

This can be a very practical solution to your problems. If you want to be able to store excess water, then having a well installed is great. You’ll be able to make use of this water in various ways, so it can be a very practical choice. Getting a dry well system such as this installed may be pricey, though.

For the well to work properly, you will have to get a series of drains installed in your yard. This can really become expensive when you have a larger property. If your flooding problems are significant enough, it may still wind up being your best solution. This is a very effective French drain alternative that you should keep in mind if the other options are not working out.


Having a dry well installed on your property will definitely eliminate your flooding issues. It is actually capable of working much better than a French drain overall. If you want to get everything taken care of without having to worry about standing water in your yard, then this makes sense. It can be costly, but it is hard to deny how good a dry well system works to solve the problem.


The cost of getting one of these wells installed is the only real negative. If you don’t have a significant amount of money to invest in this solution, then it isn’t going to be possible for you to go this route. People who need more cost-effective solutions may wish to look at installing steps instead. A dry well is a great way to fix problems with flooding in your yard, but it won’t work out for everybody.

4. Add a New Garden Area

A small garden area in a yard.

Gardens are actually a good way to help prevent flooding in your yard. You may not be aware of this, but gardens are a natural way to promote better drainage on your property. If you have been dealing with flooding issues due to excessive rain, then installing a new garden is a logical solution. It can add to the beauty of your yard while helping you to deal with the incoming water better.

If you notice that water is pooling in a certain area of your property, then it might be a good idea to put your new garden there. There are certain types of plants that can really thrive in soggy soil. If you do a little bit of research, then you should be able to find the perfect plants to make a new garden area. Your drainage will improve significantly and your yard will be much more pleasant because of it.


One of the best aspects of adding in a new garden area to your property is that it will add beauty to the yard. You can make your yard look even nicer while helping to promote better drainage. This is something that has the potential to solve your problems. It is an idea that will work well and will make you feel better about your property as a whole.


The bad thing about making a new garden area to prevent problems with flooding is that not all plants will work well in this environment. You will need to choose the plants that you are including in the garden area very meticulously. Some plants will die if they get too much water, and this isn’t going to make you feel all that positive about your property’s new feature. Make sure that you do your research on which plants will be okay in soggy soil ahead of time.