Types Of Driveway Drains [8 Options]

Driveways can be constructed from a variety of materials and are designed in such a way that they drain water away from the home.

This is to prevent water damage to the home’s foundation and surrounding landscaping.

There are several drainage options for directing water away. These include trench, french, and slot drains, above-ground systems, and permeable surfaces. Grading, or sloping, the driveway is also essential for pulling water away from the home. Some homeowners may opt to use their driveway drainage as a way to collect water for other uses.

Importance Of Driveway Drains

Driveway drains offer the homeowner with functional and aesthetic benefits. A nicely paved and drained driveway adds a pleasing, well-maintained look to the front of your home.

Consider the following functional issues if improper draining occurs:

Discoloration And Cracking

Cracking is not only caused by nearby tree roots but by water as well. 

Standing or pooling water will cause wear and tear that breaks down the driveway material. This results in discoloration and cracking.

Erosion

Landscaping and lawn can wash away with repeated exposure to excess water. This may need to be remedied with frequent soil and plant replacements.

Foundation Issues

If water is moving towards the home, this pressure can cause degradation of your home’s foundation. This can lead to cracking or leaks that result in an expensive fix.

Excess Moisture

If the driveway does not drain water away from your home, the water can create excess moisture in your home, garage, or basement. 

This could lead to mold or mildew buildup, as well as damage to the structure.

Other Hazards

Pooling or standing water can be a breeding ground for bacteria and mosquitos that can pose a risk to humans and pets.

Additionally, standing water will freeze in winter climates, creating a fall hazard.


Driveway Composition

The composition and installation of the driveway will also affect the longevity of your driveway and how it drains. 

This table offers a brief look at these:

Type Of Driveway MaterialInformation
Brick

  • Typically installed professionally to ensure leveled bricks

  • Sand, concrete, or gravel are used underneath to hold bricks in place

  • If the bricks shift, water can enter in

Cobblestone

  • Needs precision installation, typically by a professional

  • Does not erode easily

  • Weather-resistant

  • Load bearing capabilities

  • Stain-resistant

  • If the stones shift, water can enter in

Concrete

  • Durable; needs little maintenance

  • Can crack in long exposure to freezing temperatures

  • Stains easily

  • Porous and will erode or crack if standing water remains on it for extended periods

Asphalt

  • Doesn’t stain easily

  • Cracks easily due to temperature changes and excess moisture

  • Maintenance needed for cracking and sealing

Gravel

  • Messy; rocks can move with vehicle and foot traffic

  • Water can easily erode gravel out of place

  • High maintenance; raking and replacement to keep the driveway level and free from potholes


8 Types of Driveway Drains

To prevent damage to your home and the driveway, a driveway drain is important to use no matter what material the driveway is made out of.

An above or below-ground drainage system will either be created onsite, cast in place, or pre-engineered offsite. 

Underground drains may also be connected to underground sewer lines, following state regulations. Generally, drains that connect to the sewer must have a plug sealed with concrete to prevent the release of odors and gasses.  

1. Trench Drains

These drains are subsurface trenches.

One type of precast drain is made of thermoplastics such as high-density polyethylene (HDPE) or polyethylene high-density (PEHD), or polymer concrete. 

It has an elongated surface along the edge(s) of a driveway, much like a gutter, placed in the ground. It can be converted and customized to accommodate different pathways.

The trench will have a grate or slotted cover to collect water, but keep large debris out.

Concrete trench drains can also be built on-site to accommodate width, height, slope, depth, and angle for drainage.

2. French Drains

French drains work much like trench ones. A trench is dug alongside the driveway, and pipes with perforations are placed into the trench. 

Water moves into the pipe and is angled out and away from the home. It is covered with topsoil topped with grass or gravel.

3. Above-Ground Channels

Constructed

These can be seen on the sides of roads as elongated-shaped concrete divots on top of the surface. They collect water and pull it towards a grated drain inlet. 

Channels can be formed alongside driveways as well and may be constructed of bricks, cobble, or concrete.

Driveway Swale

This above-ground option uses the land by the driveway. It is graded to make a small channel in the surface to absorb water. 

A swale can be covered with landscaping or rocks, but can also be prone to some erosion.

4. Slot System

A slot drainage system goes through the middle of the driveway or patio, appearing as a thin straight line or “crack”, perpendicular to the length of the driveway. 

It generally is used in brick, cobblestone, or concrete applications, since it is set in place along with the driveway material installation. 

This precast system is generally made of polymer concrete and other materials. It is designed to move any collected debris away to a larger outlet to prevent clogging.

5. Surface Grading

A driveway is often graded to naturally pull water away from the home and towards any drainage systems.

A driveway could also be graded without a drainage system in place, as long as the water is being directed away.

6. Permeable Driveway

This is a sustainable option for new driveway installs. 

The driveway is made from open-cell or porous pavers in eye-catching patterns. Gaps are created in between filled with grass or small stones. 

All gravel or grass driveways are also considered to be permeable driveways. 

Ideally, the driveway should create a downward slope away from the home, as the ground naturally absorbs water from the driveway.

7. Rainwater Collection

Homeowners can invest in a rainwater harvesting system that collects water from their driveway. This water is suitable for non-potable uses such as watering vegetation or washing vehicles. 

Generally, a well with a pump is installed below-ground with drainage tunnels to collect the water.

8. Levees

Levees are made by man as elevated earth or concrete to prevent flood waters from flowing towards an undesired area. 

These can be designed with aesthetics in mind to create an appealing look in front of the home.


Conclusion

Draining water via an above- or below-ground option, keeps homes protected from excess water and correlating damage.

Drainage can be done through methods that involve channels, trenches, piping, permeable surfaces, collection wells, levees, and downward grading.