Tuesday, February 22, 2011

On French Drains and Farming Friends

The French drain is finally done. I procrastinated on finishing that project for a good three weeks. I wasn't REALLY procrastinating, I was busy with other things  - I know, likely story, but I swear it's true.

I was so fortunate to have my friend Esperanza of Pluck and Feather volunteer to help me with the digging. Yes, you heard me right, she OFFERED to dig a hole in my backyard for free, which, in my book, makes her one of the most awesomest people in my world. When I questioned her motives, she said "How is this any different than if we were friends that liked to run together or play sports? This is the stuff we like to do so why wouldn't we do it while hanging out." God, I'm so glad we're farming buddies and not running buddies. I HATE running.

Here I am looking a little spent.

I assure you it's all for show. While I was out at the store picking up some more filter fabric, Esperanza had moved all 900 pounds of drain rock from my truck to the backyard. Damn, that girl can hustle. I told my husband that he should hire her for construction jobs. Most of the guys I've worked with in our construction business couldn't hold a candle to her. Her breakneck productivity left me in the dust feeling more than a little guilty for not being as industrious - you know, like when a guest comes over and does the dishes that you've been meaning to get to all day. What? That's never happened to you? Looks like I could use some more urban farm workouts.

After we dug the trench, we laid filter fabric (landscaping fabric) and then a 20 foot length of 4" perforated pipe in the hole.

We then covered the pipe with drain rock.

After the drain rock, we wrapped the filter fabric around the whole thing as if we were putting a baby to bed or wrapping a burrito. Rocks were placed on top to hold the fabric in place.

At one end of the pipe, I installed a small sump pump, which I placed in a five gallon bucket. I don't think we'll need it, but the husband wants to make sure we don't flood in the animal pen again.

The bucket was attached to the perf pipe and then buried only to the lid so that we can still access it in case of mechanical problems.

I put a small square of ply over it, keeping it from being crushed by curious animals.


I suppose the pump is in no danger of damage by Fruit Loop.

And here's the finished product! We're going with bark mulch for bedding, since the hay seemed to prevent water from draining into the soil. I'll keep you posted as to how that ends up working out.


  1. Looks good! I prefer wood chips over hay as well. It helps a ton with traction (hay becomes slicker that snot on a cold day when there's lots of water) and drains better for sure.

  2. I am, as always, impressed! And what a friend you have!

  3. Woojoo! Looks great. Thanks for posting it. Good tip about mulch. I think this might also be helpful for Kitty. She was having issues with barnyard drainage.