Using Rocks for Drainage to Keep Water Away From Your Foundation and Home

The age-old practice of using rock to drain and dry out your foundation is as effective today as it was a thousand years ago. Learn more in this detailed guide. For a home to stand the test of time it needs a rock solid, stable, and secure foundation.

Today’s homes are built with some of the most perfectly engineered and well constructed foundations in human history. But even they are going to get beat up, worn down, and washed away if drainage isn’t properly accounted for.

Thankfully though, it’s not all that challenging to build a proper drainage system for a foundation.

Even better news for those that have homes already built it’s not all that hard to add extra drainage with rocks to protect your property, either.

Let’s dig into this a little more right now.

Struggling with Drainage Problems on Your Property?

The odds are pretty good that you’re not going to wake up one morning and find your home ringed with a brand-new moat indicating a drainage problem that needs to be addressed ASAP.

Sure, those kinds of situations do happen (usually with older construction more than newer homes) – but usually the signs of drainage issues are a lot more subtle.

Here’s a quick rundown of the kinds of problems you need to be on the lookout for, problems that are surefire symptoms of drainage issues that can be resolved with the right amount of rocks used strategically.

  • Standing water around the foundation
  • “Little rivers” running all over the property, especially towards the foundation
  • Soggy ground around your home
  • Flaking or leaking walls in your basement
  • Mildew smell in your basement
  • Mold growing inside of your home
  • Overflowing gutters

The Benefits of Using Rock to Resolve Drainage

Though there are a couple of different ways you can address drainage problems around your property, rocks – the right kind of rocks used correctly – can resolve most problems without blowing holes in your bank account or causing you to totally excavate your foundation.

Let’s run through just a handful of the big benefits that rocks used to fix drainage problems bring to the table.

Effective

The number one reason to use rocks to resolve your drainage problems has to do with the effectiveness of this solution to begin with.

Rocks have been used for drainage purposes for as long as human beings have been building buildings!

Our ancient ancestors throughout the earliest civilizations (stretching beyond the ancient Egyptians, the ancient Greeks, and the ancient Romans that really perfected the art of rock drainage) all used rocks to drain water away from their buildings – and often to funnel it into more useful areas.

Sure, there are some pretty impressive modern drainage solutions available on the market today. Drainage technology has grown by leaps and bounds, radically transforming from relatively simple systems to far more complex and comprehensive project.

At the end of the day, though, just a bit of strategically placed rock smartly laid down around your property can resolve your drainage problems. There’s something really cool about that.

Affordable

Another reason people love to use rocks to combat drainage problems is because they are so affordable.

Like we mentioned a moment ago, most of the time when you use rock in a drainage installation you don’t have to excavate your foundation. You don’t have to dig up and move a ton of earth, either.

Most of the time you don’t even have to worry about tearing up your lawn while you bring the rock in to improve drainage, either!

The affordability and availability of rock (you’d be hard-pressed to find any place on the planet that you can’t get rock for drainage) makes it a no-brainer construction material.

Attractive

Rock drains (especially drainage systems that are intended to be left “exposed”) are some of the most aesthetically pleasing drainage solutions possible.

There’s just something about the way that rock blends into the rest of your natural landscape in such a seamless way that sets it apart from more complex, convoluted, and man-made systems.

If you don’t want to “ugly up” your property with a bunch of pipes and a bunch of drains, using rock instead is the way to go.

Energy Efficient

Let’s not forget about the energy efficiency of rock as a drainage solution, either.

The fact that rock can absorb the heat from the sun passively, maintain and radiate that heat when the temperature drops, and use that heat to melt snow and ice and move that water away from your property – even when the temperature really plunges – is a game changer.

There aren’t a lot of other materials out there with this kind of capability. Not as a passive benefit, anyway.

Rock Drainage Solutions That Really Work

Now that we run through the big benefits of using rock as a drainage solution, let’s highlight a couple of the ways people use this material to get the results they are after.

Easy Grading

The easiest way to change the flow of water on your property is to change the grade, specifically slanting the grade away from your home and your foundation with rock so that water doesn’t want to flow that way.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist or a chemical engineer to understand that water doesn’t want to flow uphill.

Water follows the path of least resistance, which means it’s always going to run downhill and with the grade. Use this knowledge to build up certain areas with rock and pitch the water away strategically and you’ll eliminate leaky foundations forever.

Top Coat to Hold Soil

Rock can also be used as a “top coat” in a variety of different applications to hold soil that would have disappeared due to erosion.

We never really think about how devastating erosion can be, mostly because it happened so slowly – and then seems to pop up as a big problem out of nowhere.

By combating erosion with strategically placed gravel and drain rock you’re going to be able to hold your soil, maintain structural integrity around your foundation, and prevent water from compromising your structure over time.

That’s a game changer.

Curtain Drains

Curtain drains are a very effective way to control the water that has been strategically rerouted with gravel grading.

These kinds of drains are dug into a trench (a decent stretch away from your foundation) with piping and gravel laid in. Curtain drains operate sort of as a “release valve” when the soil around your home just can’t hold any water but the rainstorm, the snowmelt, or the other precipitation doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.

French Drains

French drain systems are little more complex than some of the other options we highlighted above, and may be the kind of project that you want to outsource to legitimate professionals.

At the end of the day, though, French drain trench systems with rock and gravel are some of the most effective ways to guarantee that your foundation stays bone dry no matter what.

These projects involve trenching, backfilling with gravel, rerouting the trenches to a collection system or a runoff, and then covering everything up with a bit of topsoil and sod to sort of “hide” the work.

The big benefit here is that you not only get to enjoy all of the utility that gravel and drain rock offer but you also get to hide that under a layer of grass and sod to create an invisible system, too.

It doesn’t get much better than that!