Difference Between Grading and French Drains: What Is Best For Your Yard?

Proper drainage is important for a healthy, functional, and beautiful yard. But, as a homeowner, how do you decide between the two most common solutions for addressing yard drainage issues? On one hand, some say grading drains are the best. On the other hand, some argue for French drains.

Understanding the differences between these yard draining methods can help you choose the right drainage for lawns.
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The Pros and Cons of Grading Your Yard


  • A graded yard is a natural and aesthetically pleasing solution that blends with the landscape.
  • If correctly installed, proper yard grading is low maintenance.
  • Smaller yards with minimal drainage issues will be more affordable to grade.
  • Properly graded yards benefit from even water distribution, promoting healthy plant growth. 
  • A beautiful yard can potentially increase curb appeal and property value.


  • Yard grading may not be suitable for larger yards or landscapes with significant elevation differences.
  • If done incorrectly, an improperly graded yard can suffer from worse and more costly drainage problems. 

The Pros and Cons of Installing French Drains


  • French drains are an ideal solution for collecting and redirecting large volumes of water.
  • It’s a more suitable solution for yards with existing landscaping or other obstacles that make grading challenging.
  • It can be installed around foundations and basements, which are common problem areas.
  • It’s easier to direct water where you want using French drains.
  • French drains can last long with proper installation.


  • The associated costs with French drains are higher, especially for larger yards.

Grading vs. French Drains: Choosing the Right Solution

As a general rule of thumb, grading is the better solution for smaller yards with minor drainage issues, budget-conscious projects, and instances when aesthetics are a priority. However, for larger yards with existing landscaping or areas where persistent water pooling exists, French drains are the ideal choice. 

But, before you make your decision, you have to consider the following factors first:

  • Slope of the yard
  • The severity of drainage problems
  • Budget
  • Desired aesthetics
  • Presence of existing landscaping

Finally, always consult a professional landscaper or drainage contractor first. They will come in to assess your yard and recommend the most cost-effective solution for your drainage needs.

Avoid DIY at all costs when dealing with drainage and landscaping. Without the proper experience and expertise of professionals, you may damage existing landscaping and make your yard’s drainage problems worse. 

With expert help, your yard will look like a beautiful, thriving facade for your home that will make you proud.

Drain Your Yard The Right Way

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for drainage for lawns. Each option is best for a particular scenario. Take your time considering the advantages and disadvantages of grading and French drains before making a choice. 

Regardless of what you choose, what’s important is proper lawn drainage for a healthy yard and foundation.

If these feel too confusing for you, don’t let the complications associated with proper yard drainage sap your energy. Contact Highlands Landscaping today so we can come in and give you our expert advice. We can work together with you and your budget to solve your yard drainage needs.

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