French drains (aka weeping tile, perimeter drains, agricultural drains, and rock drains) are an easy-to-install solution for your drainage problems. Clients pay an average price of $5,000 to have a French drain installed professionally, with most homeowners paying $1,650 – $12,250.
In this cost guide:
- Average Costs
- Cost Estimator by Size
- Other Factors That Affect Cost
- Related Services
- Pro Cost vs. DIY Cost
- Cost by Location
Average French Drain Cost in 2023
|National Average Cost||$5,000|
|Typical Price Range||$1,650 – $12,250|
|Extreme Low End Cost||$500|
|Extreme High End Cost||$18,000|
These prices are subject to change based on your property’s size, the location of your drain, the soil found on your property, and extra services like adding a decorative cover or connecting to a rain garden.
French Drain Cost Estimator by Size
French drains are perforated pipes placed in trenches that absorb and direct water flow away from areas susceptible to damage. They’re great for homeowners who struggle with flooding or damage after heavy rain.
French drains can be placed in various places around your property, including in the basement, around your home’s exterior perimeter, or behind a retaining wall, but the location needs to be sloped.
|Location on Property||Cost Per Linear Foot|
|Interior French Drain||$40 – $100|
|Exterior French Drain||$10 – $65|
The size of your pipes affects the price as well, as the bigger the pipe is, the bigger the hole you’ll have to dig, meaning more workers and more time on the job.
Exterior French Drains
Exterior French drain installation costs between $10 – $65 per linear foot, and you can choose between shallow or footing French drains:
- Shallow drains are best if your water issues aren’t extreme or you don’t have a high water table, and they tend to be more affordable.
- Footing drains are more expensive, are placed at least a foot below the surface, and mainly go around the perimeter of your home.
|Pipe Length||Typical Cost|
|50 linear feet||$500 – $3,250|
|100 linear feet||$1,000 – $6,500|
|200 linear feet||$2,000 – $13,000|
Interior French Drains
Installing an interior French drain is the most expensive option and costs between $40 – $100 per linear foot.
|Pipe Length||Typical Cost|
|50 linear feet||$2,000 – $5,000|
|100 linear feet||$4,000 – $10,000|
|200 linear feet||$8,000 – $20,000|
Having a French drain installed in your basement floor is a great way to prevent interior flooding, wet basements, clogging, and any mold or other pests caused by water damage. This type of placement costs more because it requires more construction and additions like sump pumps to ensure the French drain works properly.
Other Factors that Affect Cost
Aside from size, the cost of installing a French drain is influenced by the following factors:
Type of Soil
The type of soil in the area where you’re installing your French drain can affect the price. Shale and clay soils are difficult to dig through, increasing the time it takes to do the job, especially if you’re digging a deep hole for footing French drains.
Excavating a French drain involves some labor, so if the location is hard to access, it can increase your price. If your landscaper cannot bring the trencher or mini-excavator to the area, the digging will have to be done by hand, taking up more time and more individuals to get the job done.
If you decide to tackle this project yourself, you can rent an excavator for around $85 per day.
Most of the cost of a French drain comes from labor and equipment; however, material prices can vary. For example, the piping typically costs $0.50 to $3 per linear foot, and pea gravel costs $25 to $53 per ton.
If the force of gravity isn’t enough to drain the runoff water, you will also need a sump pump. Once the water reaches a certain height, the sump pump starts pumping water away to prevent clogs and flooding.
There are both functional and decorative add-ons to enhance your French drain.
The runoff water from a French drain has to go somewhere. Here are some solutions that can connect to your French drain to handle the runoff:
- Rain gardens utilize the runoff water to hydrate plants that thrive with lots of water (i.e., elderberry and marsh marigolds). Expect to pay $1 – $5 per square foot for a DIY rain garden or $10 – $20 per square foot for professional installation.
- Storm drains are common destinations for rainwater and typically cost $500 – $3,500.
- Dry wells are placed underground to store excess water and they typically cost $500 – $3,000.
- Irrigation ditches are another way to store water and use it to water plants.
Do you like your landscape looking snazzy? French drains are slightly visible after installation, and the gravel and landscape fabric placed over the drain doesn’t always look appealing.
Some homeowners like to include a decorative covering to boost curb appeal and decorative rocks or pebbles. This landscape curbing can cost between $600 – $1,400, depending on the project’s size.
Here are additional services to improve drainage and the condition of your lawn:
Retaining Wall Installation
Installing a retaining wall can be a great way to manage water and prevent erosion. The cost to install a retaining wall ranges between $20 – $53 per square foot, depending on the material used.
Placing a French drain behind a retaining wall is a great idea, as it can help relieve water pressure and prevent the retaining wall from falling over. Installing a French drain behind a retaining wall can cost between $25 – $50 per linear foot.
|National Average Cost||$6,300|
|Typical Price Range||$3,500 – $9,400|
|Extreme Low-End Cost||$1,200|
|Extreme High-End Cost||$13,700|
You can also build a DIY retaining wall using landscaping blocks.
Clean gutters allow water to flow away from home, keeping your roof and foundation in its best condition. Professional gutter cleaning typically costs $120 – $200 and most homeowners have their gutters cleaned twice a year.
|National Average Cost||$160|
|Typical Price Range||$120 – $200|
|Extreme Low-End Cost||$70|
|Extreme High-End Cost||$450|
If you have the tools and know how to clean gutters, you can do it yourself.
After installing a French drain, it is common to need new sod. The installation may damage some existing sod, and many homeowners add a French drain after grass already succumbed to water damage.
Expect new sod to cost about $0.87 – $1.76 per square foot (including installation).
See sod prices (sod only) for popular grass types in the table below.
|Sod Type||Typical Cost / Sq. Ft.|
|Bahia||$0.20 – $0.33|
|Ryegrass||$0.28 – $0.58|
|Kentucky bluegrass||$0.29 – $0.43|
|Fescue||$0.32 – $0.67|
|St Augustine||$0.41 – $0.86|
|Bermuda||$0.44 – $0.83|
|Zoysia||$0.47 – $0.72|
Aeration is the process of poking holes in the soil so your grass can take in more water, oxygen, and nutrients. Professional aeration typically costs $75 – $225, with yard size and aeration method being the more influential price factors.
|National Average Cost||$145|
|Typical Price Range||$75 – $225|
|Extreme Low-End Cost||$40|
|Extreme High-End Cost||$700|
If you learn how to aerate a lawn and have access to the proper equipment, you can do it yourself. However, it is hard labor!
A typical sprinkler system costs $2,400 – $4,200. The type of sprinkler system and the size of your lawn impact the total project price.
|National Average Cost||$3,150|
|Typical Price Range||$2,400 – $4,200|
|Extreme Low-End Cost||$825|
|Extreme High-End Cost||$8,300|
Cost of a DIY French Drain
If you decide to install a French drain yourself, you will need the materials and equipment listed in the table below.
|Pea gravel||$25 to $53 per ton|
|Trencher rental||$85 per day|
|Landscape fabric||$0.45 – $0.80 / sq ft|
|Trench Drain||$18 for 1 meter|
|Pre-perforated PVC drain pipe||$12|
How to Install a French Drain in 6 Steps
Step 1: First, you need to determine where the drainage problem is and where you’ll connect the French drain pipe. Ensuring you’ve marked any utility lines and previously installed pipes before starting is essential, and having the PVC pipe on a slope is critical. You should also never drain onto your neighbor’s property.
Step 2: Now it’s time to start trenching. The hole should be 1 to 2 feet deep and 9 – 12 inches wide, and you could either rent a trencher to dig or shovel by hand.
Step 3: Once the trench is dug, you need to lay down landscaping fabric throughout the whole area to protect against dirt, roots, and other debris. There should be excess fabric on both sides after you’ve placed it.
Step 4: After the fabric has been laid, it’s time to place the gravel or broken-down stone into the hole. This helps to filter any excess water and protect against clogs and flooding.
Step 5: Connect the pipe to whatever apparatus you’re draining the water to, and the tube should also be placed under where any standing water is on your grass.
Step 6: After you’ve placed the entire PVC pipe into the trench, pour some water into it to test if it’s working, then cover it with gravel and the excess fabric. Next, pour the soil you removed over the pipe to completely cover it while temporarily covering the grate to protect it from debris.
This project should be done during warm and dry months, making it easier to dig and see the problem areas.
DIY Cost vs. Professional Cost
The total cost to do this project on your own is about $700 vs. $3,000 to have a professionally installed French drain. Although the DIY option is more affordable, installing a French drain system is labor-intensive and requires precision, time, and previous landscaping knowledge, so it’s best to leave it to the professionals.
Cost of French Drains by Location
The cost of a new French drain is affected by your geographic location:
- Permits: When installing a French drain, you may need to apply for a permit. Permits can range between $58 – $225 and are used to make sure your drainage project doesn’t become your neighbor’s problem.
- State of residence: Each state comes with its own local and federal rules on what you can add to your property, and some may regulate the use of French drains to keep unwanted impurities out of the water supply.
- Basements: In some locations, such as Toledo, Ohio, a basement comes standard with most homes. In other locations, such as Miami, homes are built at sea level and do not have basements. Since basement waterproofing and drainage is expensive, the existence of a basement increases costs.
- Labor costs: French drain installation is labor intensive, so the local cost of labor has a huge impact on pricing.
FAQ About French Drains
Yes. French drains are an affordable way to prevent flooding and water damage. They are durable, typically lasting 30 – 40 years, and if done right they will add to your home’s curb appeal.
French drains can be a solution to areas on your property where the grass is consistently soggy, there are pools of water, or you’ve noticed mold or foundation issues.
French drains are simple to install and can be placed in various locations across your property, from a crawl space to behind a retaining wall.
A sump pump is a device placed at the lowest point of your home, like a basement or crawl space, that helps prevent flooding and water damage.
A sump pump goes hand in hand with indoor drainage systems because French drains work best on a slope to direct the water, and sump pumps take over when there is no slope. Some professionals will install two sump pumps if necessary, and they are usually not needed with exterior French drains.
Before you start to install your French drain, you should make sure all the utility lines on your property are marked. Some landscaping companies will handle this beforehand, but if they can’t, or you’re installing a French drain yourself, you should call 811 to have a professional come out and mark the utility lines.
This step goes hand in hand with ensuring you have the proper permits and that your French drain is inspected soon after to save you a headache in the long run.
French drains are a great way to solve water problems by reducing the amount of surface water. Installing a French drain is labor intensive, so a DIY is more affordable, but takes a lot of skilled labor. Let an experienced professional handle the work so you can enjoy your outdoor living space instead.
Michelle Selzer contributed to this article.
Photo Credit: Robin Stott / Geograph / CC-BY-SA 2.0