9 Types of Yard Drains For Your Home and Garden

Water is an essential feature of any home and garden. But what’s more important is good drainage. If water doesn’t drain away from a home, it can cause many problems. If homeowners suddenly have drainage issues, they might wonder about the different drains available for the house and garden. 

In the home, foul water drains remove wastewater from the inside, and surface water drains remove rainwater from the roof. The most common garden drains include french, channel, yard drains, and natural drainage systems such as swales and berms.

Good drainage around the home is essential. If water doesn’t drain, it can cause flooding, rot, mold, and water stains. Poor drainage in the garden will cause soil erosion, loose topsoil, and boggy wet patches.

To help us keep our homes damp-free, we’ll talk about nine types of yard drains we can use around the house and garden. 

An image of a metal grid of the drainage trough with leaves and vines on top of it.

List of Drainage Systems for Your Home and Garden

Drainage systems for the home and garden include foul water drains, roof gutters, yard drains, and channel drains which usually redirect water to a main drain or septic tank. In the garden, dry wells and french drains can help redirect excess water back into the earth.

We’ll take a more detailed look at the nine drainage systems for the home and garden in the list below. 

Drainage systems in the home

There are two types of drainage systems in the home – foul water (sewer) drains and surface water drains. Surface water drains catch rainfall from outside on the roof, while foul water drains remove sewage and wastewater from inside the house. 

#1 – Foul water drains (sewer drains)

Foul water drains are located all over the house but are often hidden behind walls and floors. The ones we are most familiar with are fixed, open drains on the sinks, bathtubs, and showers. Foul water drains operate by gravity and empty into a main drainage system or sewer lines.

Home drainage systems usually have S or U bends. These hold a small amount of water to prevent odors from seeping back through the drain. The toilet also has a bend which is known as the toilet trap.

Foul water drains flow into the main drain, usually hidden underneath a house, then into a main sewer or septic tank. 

#2 – Surface water drains (gutters)

Gutters are made from plastic, steel, copper, iron, or aluminum and run along the base of the roof. They catch the rain that runs off the house and directs it to a drain to prevent the water from pooling around the home. 

Most homes have gutters installed, and it’s the most common way to prevent rainwater from gathering around a house. Guttering comes in many shapes and styles – the half-round design is the most common.

Box gutters complement contemporary designs, and deep gutters have a large capacity, so they are ideal for places with lots of rainfall.

Gutters have a downspout that directs the water to a catch basin. Unfortunately, we must clean gutters regularly because they’re prone to clogging with debris from the roof. 

An image of Laying plastic pipes drainage to drain the water around the house of the drainage system.

Drainage for outside (but by the house)

A channel drain is the best way to collect water from around a house. They are a perfect solution if the home sits at the bottom of a slope. 

#3 – Channel drain

Channel drains, also known as trench or linear drains, are usually made from plastic, stone, or concrete and are a good solution for walkways, driveways, and solid areas where water can’t seep into the ground. 

Channel drains run in straight lines, are covered with a removable grate, and sit just below the ground’s surface. They are most effective when we put them at the bottom of a slope, so water flows towards them.

We can connect a channel drain to the primary drainage system or direct the water to a more absorbent place in the garden.

Channel drains have different weight-bearing scores – class A, B, and C. Class A is suitable for pedestrian traffic only, class B is suitable for cars and vans, and class C can handle heavy vehicles such as tractors. 

Drainage systems for in the garden

The best drainage systems for the garden are a dry well or a rain garden. These systems absorb excess rainwater and prevent soil erosion and boggy patches.

#4 – A dry well

A dry well is a cylindrical underground reservoir that collects water runoff and disperses it deeper underground. We can also redirect other drains from our homes or gardens into a dry well.

Dry wells come in many sizes. They can be simple structures, such as a hole lined with permeable fabric and filled with gravel, or more complex solid arrangements with a network of drain holes. Sometimes dry wells are known as soakaway areas and are built with special soakaway crates.  

The crucial thing about dry wells is that they’re made from porous materials, so the water can slowly seep out. We should put one at the lowest point in the garden where water tends to pool.

Dry wells are low maintenance – and we can cover them with turf or a grate. 

#5 – Rain garden

A rain garden is filled with loose, well-draining soil and deep-rooted, water-loving plants. It’s a natural drainage solution that filters the water before returning it to the water table. 

A rain garden will absorb pools of water. They’re low maintenance, provide color and texture to a garden and attract wildlife. We must use deep-rooted plants in the middle of a rain garden and more drought-tolerant plants around the drier edges.

We must also use plenty of organic matter in the garden to help drainage. 

We should make a rain garden at the bottom of a slope or in an area where water pools. Make a berm, a small earth dam, at the back of the rain garden, and direct water to the area with a channel, pipe, or swales.

A rain garden isn’t the same as a bog garden – the water should drain within twenty-four hours.

An image of a Drainage channel expelling water after rains.

Drainage systems for in the yard

The best drainage system for a yard is a yard drain. Concrete materials in yards are not porous, so water can easily pool on the surface. It is easy to install a yard drain to help drain excess water. 

#6 – Yard drains

Yard drains are also known as catch basins, storm drains, or surface water drains, and we usually find them at the base of gutter downspouts. They’re made from bricks, cement, plastic, or polymer and are covered with a grate.

A catch basin catches rainwater from the roof, directs it away from the house, and usually connects to the main water drainage pipe. We can put one anywhere in the yard where excess water accumulates. They come in many sizes, but one foot by one foot is the most common size found around the home. 

A protective grate on top of a yard drain is crucial to prevent large pieces of debris from entering the drain and clogging up the pipes further down the line.

It’s ok for small items to enter the drain – they will sink to the bottom and allow the water to flow out the drainage pipe. This creates a sediment that we must clean occasionally.

An image of a Plastic drain gutter, green grass lawn, and stone pavement sidewalk.

Drainage systems for a lawn

If a lawn starts holding water, we must drain it to prevent it from ruining the grass. Use a french drain to help water absorb into the earth, or if there are only mild drainage issues, try aerating the soil to make it more absorbent. 

What are the different types of turf drain systems?

The best turf drain systems are a french drain and soil aeration, which we will look at below. 

#7 – Aerate the soil

Earth can become compact over time, and as a result, it absorbs less water. If there is an area on the lawn that is suddenly collecting water – it might be compacted. We can improve the drainage of compacted earth by aerating it. 

We can use an aeration roller or a garden fork to make holes in the lawn, which might improve drainage. Aerating the soil won’t work for areas with heavy flooding or if there is clay earth that is naturally thick and heavy.  

#8 – French drains

French drains are also called land drains and are one of the most common lawn drainage systems. They are made from trenches filled with aggregate and perforated pipe. French drains are ideal for pools of water in low-lying areas and clay soil. 

With a french drain, rainwater seeps into the underground perforated pipe, which we can redirect to an absorbent area of the garden or a main drain. Cover french drains with rocks or earth, and they will look stylish and inconspicuous, so they are ideal for lawns and landscaped gardens. 

What is the best landscape drainage?

The best type of landscape drainage system is known as berms and swales. They blend into the landscape and can redirect and drain water from a garden. 

#9 – Berms and swales

Berms and swales are a natural and self-sustaining landscape drainage system, and people use them a lot in permaculture. They blend into the landscape and utilize the natural slopes of the garden to redirect water. They are ideal if we live in an area with heavy rainfall.

Berms and swales: think shallow ditches and constructed hills designed to direct the water away from where you don’t want it – to where it can go safely.

Swales are shallow, grass-covered ditches carved into the landscape, while berms are raised ridges made from compacted rock, stones, or earth. The swale provides drainage, while the berm controls the water flow into the swale.

Swales absorb and disperse water and act as a natural channel and filtration system. 

We can use swales as an irrigation system to redirect water to different parts of the garden, and they are a fantastic way to reduce puddling. They’re easy to maintain, and we can make them any size.   

What Are The Nine Different Types of Drainage?

There are many drains for the house and garden. They are either visible surface drains, such as catch basins, or subsurface ones, such as a french drain.  

Let’s recap nine of the best drainage systems for the home and yard:  

  1. Foul water drains (inside the house)
  2. Surface water drains (inside the house)
  3. A channel drain (outside by the house)
  4. Rain garden (in the garden)
  5. Dry well (in the garden)
  6. A yard drain (for in a yard)
  7. French drain (in a lawn)
  8. Aeration (in a lawn)
  9. Berms and swales (in a landscaped garden)
An image of an Old rusted metal gutter for rainwater on the stone-paved sidewalk.

What Are Backyard Drains Called?

The most common drains found in a backyard are catch basins or yard drains. These sit under the downspout of gutters or in poorly draining parts of the yard. Catch basins are also known as surface or storm drains.

How Do I Identify A Drain In My Backyard?

Some drains, such as catch basins, are easy to identify because they have a grate or cover, and we can spot a main drain by a manhole cover. Subsurface drains, such as dry wells, are harder to identify. To find these, look for depressions, small channels, slopes, or swales.

We can also look for discharge pipes to identify a drain – they sometimes stick out of the ground. If we can’t identify drains around the home, we can speak to the previous owner of the property for help or contact the local utility provider. We could also carry out a CCTV drain survey. 

Sometimes owners might share a drain with a neighbor, so we should check with them if we can’t find one on the property.  

Best Products For Yard Drains

Keeping your yard properly drained isn’t just to keep the yard from flooding. It’ll also help prevent mosquitoes from breeding (making your yard a living nightmare for BBQs). Having a well-draining yard will also help prevent in-home flooding issues.

So having the right gear is important because nobody wants to go swimming inside unless it’s at a designated indoor pool.

Best Gear to Keep Gutters Clear

When you’ve got gutters, you’ll want to have these things to make maintaining them a ton easier – even after you get covered gutters. The coverings make them a lot easier, but you’ll likely still need to clean the screened tops regularly – especially if your area has a lot of foliage that falls before winter!

Best Gear to Build a Drainage System

The exact things you’ll need will depend on what kind of drainage system you’re building – which will depend on what your home, yard, and the area look like. It’ll also depend on your climate and usual rainfall patterns.

That being said, here are some cool ideas to get your brainstorming session going strong.

Best Way to Aerate the Lawn

If you aren’t wanting to aerate your lawn, check with your local youth programs. In our area, the youth programs offer aeration for a low cost once or twice a year. That way, we don’t have to add another DIY item to our list and can help support the youth in our neighborhood. They use those funds to do many fun activities and serve those in need.

However, if you’d prefer to aerate your lawn by yourself, then having your aerator may be a great way to do it.

  • Do you have a large lawn? Check if you can rent a power aeration tool from a tool store. This will be a lot faster than using a hand-held, pushed tool.
  • Here are two great DIY aeration tool options for smaller lawns (or those who don’t mind the workout).

Key Takeaways and Next Steps

If owners want to improve the drainage around their homes and garden, they have several options. First, install a yard or channel drain to help concrete areas, such as a yard or driveway, stay dry.

If there are problems with water pooling in the garden, plant a rain garden or install a dry well to absorb water. French drains are ideal for lawns, while berms and swales are the best natural landscaping options.

Need to plan your gutters before replacing them? Make sure you read this guide we wrote first: How to Choose Gutter Color (What Colors Work Best).


Learning from your own experience is important, but learning from others is also smart. These sources were used in this article and our research to be more informed as we DIY and decorate our homestead.

  • Child, G. (2021, August 16). What are The Types of Drainage, and How to Tell Them Apart? Coastal Drains. https://www.coastaldrains.co.uk/blog/types-of-drainage/
  • Everything You Need to Know About Catch Basins. (2022, March 29). Mr. Rooter Plumbing. https://www.mrrooter.com/greater-syracuse/about-us/blog/2016/june/everything-you-need-to-know-about-catch-basins/
  • Gallagher, J. (2020, September 29). How Do I Find Out Where the Drains Are On My Property? KJC Drainage. https://kjcdrainage.co.uk/where-are-the-drains-on-my-property/
  • Plumb, B. &. (2022, June 21). What are channel drains? Everything you need to know, plus how to install a channel drain – Build and Plumb | Ideas & Advice. Build and Plumb | Ideas & Advice -. https://www.buildandplumb.co.uk/blog/what-are-channel-drains/
  • Rain gardens / RHS Gardening. (n.d.). Royal Horticultural Society. https://www.rhs.org.uk/garden-features/rain-gardens
  • Swales & conveyance channels overview. (n.d.). https://www.susdrain.org/delivering-suds/using-suds/suds-components/swales-and-conveyance-channels/Swales-conveyance-channels.html
  • Trenchlesspedia. (2020, August 28). Berm. https://www.trenchlesspedia.com/definition/2413/berm
  • Vila, B. (2022b, May 20). All You Need to Know About Dry Wells. Bob Vila. https://www.bobvila.com/articles/dry-wells-101/
  • Why use soakaway crates instead of rubble? (2022, November 24). Drainage Superstore Help & Advice. https://www.drainagesuperstore.co.uk/help-and-advice/product-guides/underground-drainage/why-use-soakaway-crates-instead-of-rubble/
  • Wilde, N. (2022, November 23). Issues with your Garden Drainage? Here are some top tips! EasyMerchant. https://www.easymerchant.co.uk/blog/garden-drainage/

Homestead Style Guide uses ads and participates in select affiliate advertising programs, including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. If you click a link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Connect with Me