While both French drains and dry creek beds are excellent drainage solutions, they vary in price, aesthetics, and more, so it's important to consider which option would be most beneficial for your property. Dry creek beds are great for large-scale drainage problems, are most common in landscaping projects, and add a beautiful decor element to any property. French drains are often used to divert water flow from a lawn or home and can be almost invisible to the naked eye. Dry creek beds typically range from $5-$7 per square foot and can take 1-2 days to install depending on their size. French drains sit a little higher at the $10-$35 range and usually take around 2-3 days to install for an average project.

How do I tell if I need a dry creek bed or a French drain?

Dry creek bed with rocks in New Baltimore, MI.

Dry creek beds, also known as dry stream beds, prevent soil erosion by moving water away from your lawn. Especially effective in sloped terrain, dry creek beds can divert and redistribute water to a natural settling area. As they are typically wider than a French drain, dry creek beds can handle more water. If you are dealing with a large amount of water on a sloping property, a dry creek bed may be the solution you've been searching for.

French drains also guide water flow away from your lawn or home, and since they drain into underground pipes, they divert the water out of sight. Almost invisible to the naked eye, French drains are often used to redirect water for issues like heavy-flow gutter downspouts, and in many cases, are smaller than a dry creek bed. For people concerned with drainage around their property or home, a French drain can be the best of both worlds for a minimal look and maximum efficacy.

Dry creek beds are aesthetically pleasing and can add a decorative focal point to your property.

How much do they cost?

As always, budget is an important factor to consider before jumping into any project. Since dry creek beds do not have piping or drain hardware, there is quite a cost difference between them and French drains. Where French drains may run you $10-$35 per square foot for installation, dry creek beds generally come in around $5-$7 per square foot.

How long will installation take and what are the steps?

French drain pipe covered in rocks in Troy, MI.

Although there will be individual differences as the projects are customized to your space and desires by the installation company, the general steps stay roughly the same.

Installing a dry creek bed usually takes 1-2 days and requires:

  1. Digging a trench from the source of the drainage issue to the preferred exit location
  2. Tamping down the soil for an even working surface
  3. Lining the trench with landscaping fabric
  4. Filling the trench with river rocks to complete the desired look

Installation for a French drain is more involved, usually taking 2-3+ days with the following steps:

  1. Dig a trench leading from the source of the flooding problem to the preferred exit location
  2. Tamp down the soil in the trench so you have an even surface to work with
  3. Line the trench with landscaping fabric and a layer of gravel bedding or specialized tile, providing a resting point for your pipes
  4. Lay piping across the entire length of the trench
  5. Cover the pipe with more gravel to secure its location
  6. Lay excess landscaping fabric over the pipe and cover it with soil

Ready to get started on your drainage solution? Call us today!

At Big Lakes Lawncare, we've been proudly serving homes and businesses in Macomb, Chesterfield, Shelby, and throughout the surrounding areas of Michigan since 2014. We perform installations for French drains, dry creek beds, and other drainage solutions. Call us today at (586) 200-0855 to get an estimate.