The Best Types Of Drainage Systems And Their Benefits

One of the types of drainage systems against a house

Drainage systems are an essential part of modern infrastructure, providing an efficient and effective way to manage excess water and prevent flooding. This is important in preventing subsidence in your yard.

Just like an irrigation installation ensures your lawn gets enough water, a drainage system is a network of channels and pipes that redirect excess water away from an area. There are many different types of drainage systems, each with its own unique set of benefits.

The type of drainage system you need will depend on the specific needs of your property, including the lay of the land, whether or not you have an artificial lawn and the amount of runoff water you anticipate.

Types Of Drainage Systems And Their Benefits

Here, we outline the most common types of drainage systems and their benefits so that you can make an informed decision about which is best for your property. 

Surface Drainage Systems

Surface drainage system

A surface drainage system utilizes ditches or channels to collect and remove water from an area. The ditches or channels direct the water toward the main drain, which is designed to absorb excess water and mitigate flooding. These systems are typically used on properties with slopes or hills since the lay of the land is ideal for implementing this system.

Benefits Of Surface Drainage Systems

The primary benefit of these types of drainage systems is that it typically works with the existing grade of the land. Some grading may be required to ensure that the water flow is directed toward the ditch or channel. But otherwise, this is a fairly low-impact drainage system to install.

Subsurface Drainage Systems

Recently installed subsurface drain as one of the types of drainage systems

As the name suggests, subsurface drainage systems are drainage systems that work just below the surface of the soil. They are designed to collect and remove water that has seeped below the surface and is collecting at the root zone of plants.

French drains are one of the types of subsurface drains that are often used to collect and remove water from areas that are prone to flooding.

Benefits Of Subsurface Drainage Systems

One benefit of subsurface drains is that they are mostly out of sight. This can be an important aesthetic consideration for homeowners who may not want visible ditches or channels marring their landscape.

Subsurface types of drainage systems can also be an important part of a homeowner’s toolkit for preventing problems with their home’s foundation. Since subsurface drainage systems target excessive water pooling below the surface, they are ideal for preventing water from building up against a home’s foundation. They can also help to improve the overall health of plants by removing excess water from the root zone. 

Sloped Drainage Systems

Sloped drainage systems are a type of system that uses gravity to move water. These systems are often found in landscapes, around pools, and in other places where water needs to be moved away quickly.

There are two types of sloped drains: surface drains and trench drains. Surface drains are usually installed at the base of a slope or in an area where water is likely to collect. Trench drains are installed along the length of a slope and are often used in conjunction with gutters and downspouts.

Benefits Of Sloped Drainage Systems

One benefit of sloped types of drainage systems is that they can be made from a variety of materials, including concrete, gravel, and plastic. Another benefit is that sloped drainage systems are relatively low maintenance and can last for many years with minimal care. Since they rely on gravity and the slope of the drainage pipes to direct water, they are virtually unbreakable (although they may need to be occasionally cleared of debris).

As a result, they are an excellent choice for any homeowner who wants to protect their home from water damage.

Downspout And Gutter Systems

Downspout and gutter drainage system

The downspout and gutter types of drainage systems are the most common type found in residential homes. Gutters are installed along the edge of the roof. They collect rainwater that would otherwise fall directly onto the ground.

Downspouts are attached to the gutters and carry the water away from the house. The water is typically directed into a storm sewer or other type of main drain. In some cases, the water may be used for irrigation.

Benefits Of Downspout And Gutter Systems

One of the primary benefits of downspout and gutter systems is the variety of materials available. Gutter systems can be made from aluminum, vinyl, copper, and more. Each material type has its own benefits and drawbacks. For example, aluminum is one of the most affordable options, but it is also susceptible to corrosion. Vinyl is more durable than aluminum but can become brittle in cold weather. Copper is the most expensive option but is also the most durable and resistant to corrosion.

Another benefit of downspout and gutter types of drainage systems is the ability to easily direct the water flow that is accumulated on a structure’s roof. This allows you to quickly direct the excess water down a drain. If you are interested in saving the water for lawn irrigation or other uses, you can also direct the water into a rain barrel or cistern. They are also relatively easy to install and maintain. 


Closeup of a swale

Swales are a type of surface drainage system used to manage water movement on properties. Essentially a swale is a shallow ditch lined with some type of vegetation and sometimes rocks or gravel. These linear depressions are installed so that water flows from a higher to a lower elevation. They typically carry stormwater runoff away from buildings and other structures. 

Benefits Of Swales

Since swales are not as deep as ditches or channels found in many surface drainage systems, they are a more subtle surface drainage option. In fact, some people may think they are simply natural depressions in a landscape!

Swales are often planted with grasses or other vegetation, so they can actually help to filter out pollutants and slow down the flow of water. Since vegetation or rocks slow down the water flow, swales can also help to prevent soil erosion and minimize the impact of flooding. They are also relatively easy to install and maintain compared to other types of drainage systems, especially if you use native plants in your swale design. 

Point Drains

Example of a point drain

Point drains are a type of subsurface drainage system that is installed at the low point of your property, where water collects. As the name suggests, the various slopes should “point” to the drain in this system. Most showers utilize a point drain to ensure that no water pools at the bottom of the shower. They are also often found in areas that have a hardscape feature, such as a driveway, patio, or decking area.

Benefits Of Point Drains

Point drains are often used around the foundations of homes. One of their main benefits is their ability to prevent water from pooling around your foundation.

Another benefit of point drains is that they can be installed without disturbing the existing landscape, unlike some other types of drainage systems. This makes them ideal for projects where minimizing the impact on the environment is a priority.

Point drains are also relatively easy to install and maintain, making them a cost-effective option for homeowners who want to protect their homes from water damage.

French Drains

Fabric covers drainage rock and pipe to keep a French drain clear of debris in this DIY home improvement project to alleviate drainage issues

French drains are a type of subsurface drainage system that is used to redirect water away from an area. French drains are typically made up of a perforated pipe that is surrounded by gravel and topped with soil. The perforations in the pipe allow water to seep into the drain, and the gravel helps to filter out any debris. The soil on top helps to keep the gravel in place and also aids in the absorption of water.

French drains are an effective way to reduce flooding and prevent water damage.

Benefits Of French Drains

French drains can be installed around the perimeter of a home, or they can be placed in any area where water tends to accumulate. The main benefit of French drains is that they help to prevent water damage by redirecting water away from vulnerable areas.

Another benefit of using these types of drainage systems is that they are relatively easy to install and do not require a lot of maintenance.

Footing Drains

Footing drains are used around the foundation of buildings to help prevent soil erosion and movement. These types of systems typically consist of a series of trenches filled with perforated drainage pipes that collect excess water and move it away from the building.

Benefits Of Footing Drains

The main benefit of a footing drain is that it collects excess water around a home’s foundation, preventing basement flooding. Footing drains are particularly effective in areas with high water tables or where there is a risk of flooding. Footing drains are sometimes used in conjunction with sump pumps that further push the water away from your foundation.

Simmons Landscape & Irrigation Can Help With Your Drainage Systems

The right types of drainage systems will protect your property from water damage, extend its lifespan, and can even save you money on your monthly water bill. With so many options to choose from, we hope this overview has helped you narrow down the type of system that will work best for your needs. There are a couple of other yard drainage solutions you may be interested in.

If you’re interested in installing a drainage system on your property, fill out our contact form today. One of our experts will be happy to answer any questions you have about which type of system is right for you.