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Land Drainage: Explained

A brief overview of land drainage and land drains

Why do you need land drainage?

Land drainage, also called a ‘French’ drain, is needed when soil becomes so saturated with water that it becomes unproductive and causes roots to rot. Very wet soil in agricultural land also makes it difficult for heavy machinery to traverse across it. Land drainage is also used to convert wetlands and boggy land into useful, usable land.

Groundwater table with land drainage

Groundwater table without land drainage

Types of land drain

  • plastic perforated pipes (coils or lengths)
  • clay ‘horseshoes’ or clay perforated pipes
  • shingle only
  • ditch/trench only

Who uses land drainage?

  • Farmers
  • Landscapers/gardeners
  • Housing developers
  • Flood prevention works

History of land drainage

Land drainage has been an active part of agriculture for as long as agriculture has been around. The Romans were prolific and inventive land drainers often creating canals (dug out manually) to convert marshy land into productive agricultural land.

Clay pipes and tiles have been used for centuries in conjunction with gravel to create trench drains, but modern methods use plastic perforated pipes, shingle and geotextile fabrics.

Perforated plastic land drains

Comes in coils with diameters ranging from 60-160mm and larger lengths coming in straight lengths with a diameter of 150-600mm as standard. Other sizes are available.

What you may also need

If you are laying drainage to a large surface area, a land drainage machine would be a cost effective way to lay the drainage.


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