how to Clean Up a French DrainA French drain is a drainage trench with an inlaid perforated pipeline covered with gravel. This drainage system can become clogged up with roots, leaves, dirt, clay or other debris over time.

A well-designed and effectively maintained French drain should be cleaned out every 3 to 5 years. Though it is easy and simple to clean out a French Drain, it may be untidy and time consuming.

Things You’ll Need to Clean Up French Drain

  • Plumbing snake
  • Yard hose
  • Rake


  1. Remove all noticeable debris from the top of the gravel.
  2. Rake the gravel to pull the stones out of the pipeline. Eliminate any debris from the stones as you move the gravel. Discard all of the old landscaping fabric in the drain trench.
  3. Pull the pipe out of the drainage trench. Wash the pipeline with the garden hose and utilize the plumbing snake to loosen the soil inside the pipe. Continue rinsing the pipe and loosening the debris until the entire pipe is clean.
  4. Place the pipe back in the trench. Change gravel up until the pipeline is halfway covered.
  5. Spread a layer of landscaping textile over the pipeline and the gravel in the trench. Be sure to cover the ends of the pipe. Change the remainder of the gravel. Remove any debris from the gravel as it is changed.

Tips & Warnings

You won’t need to clean as frequently if you keep fallen leaves, roots and various other debris far from the French drain. Use a leaf blower in the fall to help get all of the leaves off the gravel. Use a shovel to keep roots from entering the drain system.

Animals might live within the drain pipe. Be aware of any sounds and motion within the pipe to prevent being bitten by a frightened snake, chipmunk or other small animal.

A French drain, also called a land drain, is made up of a ditch filled with stones or gravel. Water seeping with the soil to reach a French drain commonly carries sediment into the drain. Some French drain installments attempt to avoid this problem by utilizing a filter at the beginning of the drain. In locations with poorly-draining soils, draining water from a French drain into the traditional dry well could trigger problems. In these cases, it may be essential to direct the drain into street storm drains or another area.

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