Drainage 101: Everything You Need to Know About Channel Drain

Drainage 101: Everything You Need to Know About Channel Drain | GreyDock Blog
Article Intro

This effective drainage solution will keep your home dry - inside and out.

What did your yard look like during last year’s spring thaw? How about after the first big downpour?

Pooling water can cause structural damage to your home and create a safety hazard around high-traffic areas like driveways and walkways.

Channel drain is a great solution for these common problems. A well-designed drainage system will prevent rain and other runoff from wreaking havoc on your home.

What is Channel Drain?

Channel drain (also called trench drain) is a linear drain that moves water through an underground drainage system. It collects and disperses the runoff over a large area. Think of it like your home’s gutter system—except in the ground!

Where Can I Use Channel Drain?

This versatile drainage solution can be installed in many areas around the home. As we mentioned before, it’s ideal in high traffic places as well as those susceptible to pooling water. Many homeowners install a run of channel in front of their garage door to prevent water damage. Here are some other areas channel drain is highly effective:

  • Driveways
  • Patios
  • Pool decks
  • Gardens
  • Walkways
  • Tennis courts
  • Golf courses
  • Parking lots

Class B rated channel drain with proper sloping | GreyDock Blog



Channel drain can be made from different materials like plastic and concrete. Polypropylene, a lightweight plastic, is often used due to its sturdy construction and chemical resistance. That makes it a major plus for residential applications.

Say you’re fertilizing your lawn and some of it makes its way into your channel drain. You won’t have to worry about the plastic breaking down because of its properties.

That being said, we strongly recommend limiting the number of chemicals that end up in your drainage system. The runoff can eventually contaminate larger bodies of water like lakes, rivers or streams.


Channel drain grates can be made from a variety of materials including plastic or galvanized steel. Depending on where you install channel drain, you can find decorative or colored grates to help blend into the landscape.

Grates are usually removable for easy cleaning. This is an important feature, as being able to clean the channel keeps water flowing freely.

Load Rating Recommendations

Like any residential drainage solution, channel drain can only handle so much weight before buckling under pressure. Be sure to choose the right load classification for your application.

Most residential options are class B rated for speeds under 20 miles per hour.

Channel Drain Load Rating Recommendations | GreyDock Blog

5 Benefits of Channel Drain

  1. Easy to maintain
  2. Effective long-term solution for removing water
  3. Controls water flow after heavy rain
  4. Reduces soil erosion
  5. Customizable for many applications

Channel Drain Installation

Installing channel drain is within reach for DIYers, but you could call a contractor or landscaping company as well. We mentioned earlier that channel drain is a great long-term solution, but only if it’s installed correctly. You’ll want to have a solid plan set before committing to this project.

Keep in mind that not all channel drain is made the same; however, the installation method is usually similar from product to product.

Every installation starts with a trench (hence the name). You’ll need to keep a few things in mind before you start digging.

How’s the grading in the area? The slope needs to be just right to get water into the drain and away from your home. If your channel is set too high, water can flow backwards instead of into it! Here’s an easy way to measure slope for landscape drainage.

And as for plastic sticks of channel, we can’t stress enough that you must use concrete—not asphalt—as a base. Asphalt can warp or even melt the stick of channel. Concrete will give trench drain a solid footing without the heat damage.

Building Your Channel Drain System

There are plenty of ways to configure a channel drain system to make it work for your home. Here are some of the ways you can do it:

Customize It

One of channel drain’s benefits is that it can be cut down to size based on your needs. Every application is different. Use a circular or miter saw to get the most effectiveness out of the product.

Secure It

Many styles of channel offer an interlocking joining system, meaning everything snaps into place for a snug fit. These don’t require any special tools (like a sealant) which is a plus.

Some products offer slots for rebar to help hold the channel in place while concrete is poured. By using all three options, your channel drain shouldn’t budge.

Accessorize It

We’re not talking about jewelry! You can continue to customize your application by adding different channel drain accessories.

With quad connectors, you can extend your drainage capabilities by creating L-, T- or X-shaped runs of channel.

To connect to drain pipe, an end outlet is required. End caps will close off a stretch of channel.

Channel Drain Accessories: Quad Connectors and End Outlets | GreyDock Blog

Connect It

Channel drain easily connects to underground drainage systems thanks to its 3- and 4-inch outlets. That gives you options for a variety of sewer and drain pipes, including corrugated pipe and schedule 40 PVC.

End outlets are standard, but if you need to disperse large amounts of water, take advantage of the bottom outlets. Most channel drain manufacturers offer one to three cutouts for bottom outlets.

Driveway Channel Drain, Installed | GreyDock Blog

Final Thoughts

Channel drain is an extremely effective drainage solution that will keep your home dry—inside and out—for years. One benefit is that do-it-yourselfers can tackle this project without having to do much upkeep after installing.

Our customers have consistently had great success after installing channel drain around their home. If you aren’t sure channel drain is the right solution for your yard, reach out to one of our drainage experts for ideas and advice!

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