Best way to dig a trench for a french drain?

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by HenryB, Mar 22, 2006.

  1. HenryB

    HenryB LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,853

    I've dug these the old fashioned way (shovel) but I'm wonderind if anyone has a better idea? Maybe a Ditchwitch or a mini-trencher. I want to make it about one foot deep and ten inches wide.
  2. joshua

    joshua LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,226

    depending on how long of a trench you need to dig. if its short in length i would just use a shovel if it was long i would rent a trencher.
  3. mdvaden

    mdvaden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,946

    If the soil is rocky or pathetically crumbly - maybe a trencher.

    But for French drains, I think a hand-dig is the most professional way to go if the soil is pliable. I even slope the sides to reduce collapse and closure. It's almost an art.

    If you go to my home page, then advice in the menu, then select advice page 2 button. I have a whole section on doing French drains the right way.

    (The "Man's Way")
  4. LB Landscaping

    LB Landscaping LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 1,309

    mdvaden, wow that is one informative website. Nice job and thanks for sharing it.:clapping: :clapping:
  5. mdvaden

    mdvaden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,946

    This old thread just came to my attention again, and it seemed worthwhile to update it.

    The drainage advice page I referred to in my earlier reply has doubled for content, and is in a different menu. The direct URL is:

    READ > Landscape Drainage Advice

    Dang ... 6 years later - lol

    But I've been getting a hoard of drainage calls the past two years. And quite a few involved alleviating botched attempts by other landscapers. Some going defunct in almost no time at all. Some of the drainage installs were defunct the instant they went in, not addressing the real need, which was grading and soil improvement.

    It's amazing how many landscape outfits use a trench of rock at their main or only tool in the kit.

  6. alexschultz1

    alexschultz1 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,588

    Haha I remember reading that, ohhh how time quickly disappears. Anyways I woulld rent a mini-ex with a 12" bucket. Trenchers are an extreme p.i.t.a when you want to run two identical depth runs side by side. The mini ex has a dozer blade on it too so you can grade much easier. On a 200 foot run I rented a dingo with a mini ex attachment and a bucket and did the entire project by myself in one day minus the sod.

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