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French Drain Installation: Common Mistakes & How To Avoid Them

French Drain Hero

When you hear the word “French”, you might think of culturally sophisticated foods, fashion, and art, but when it comes to French drains, you’re really only dealing with a trench in the ground — right? Maybe not. Installation of a French drain is a functionally comprehensible form of irrigation, but it can be technically confusing to install. When executed correctly, however, this landscaping feature will immensely improve your yard drainage, preserving structural integrity of foundations and the overall health of your lawn for years to come.

Many homeowners decide to try to install their own French drain, and while it can be done, it’s not always done well. There are common mistakes DIYers run into during this irrigation process, but knowing which mistakes to look for can set you up for a greater likelihood of success. Read on to learn more about French drain installation, and be sure to contact Twelve Oaks Landscape Co. for more valuable information on irrigation and drainage solutions for properties in the Eastern Alabama region. 


A Brief & Humorous History of the French Drain

The design of a French drain is simple but sophisticated, and although its name seemingly alludes to the verdant countryside of France, it actually may have been invented by an American named Henry Flagg French in the mid-1800s! More important than the humorous history behind its creation, a French drain is an effective irrigation solution for yards of all kinds, especially those that have to accommodate the heavy rainfall and humidity of climates in the Deep South region. 



What Is A French Drain? Why Install One For Your Lawn?

You may be surprised to learn that a French drain is little more than a trench dug into the ground, which is then filled with rocks or gravel. That’s right: this “drain” doesn’t feature any European stainless steel fixtures or filtered water!

A French drain works thanks to the indented structure of the ditch combined with a perforated cover of stones and a drainage pipe. The way it conducts water flow relieves pressure from the ground and redirects excess water away from the yard and foundation of any nearby structures or property foundations. 



French Drain Installation Mistakes

Now that you understand the basic function and structure of a French drainage system, it’s time to tackle the most common problems and mistakes that can be encountered during its construction and installation. 


Mistake 1: Digging Blindly

Before you break out the shovel and start digging, you’ll need to make a phone call. If your property has any water, electrical, or gas lines buried underground — and it definitely does! — be sure to make a phone call to 811, the national “call-before-you-dig” number. Since your French drain will likely span between 2 to 8 inches down into the ground, there’s a good chance you’ll encounter some pipes or lines along the way. Avoid unnecessary repair costs and property damage with a quick call, then move on to make sure you’re not committing Mistake #2!


Mistake 2: Using The Wrong Pipes

There are several viable options when it comes to selecting drainage pipes for your irrigation plot, but no matter which one you choose, be sure that it’s perforated and made from plastic. Any kind of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) pipe is a great option because it is malleable and perforated with miniscule holes rather than slits; the former is easy to clean and clogs less easily, whereas the latter is inefficient and nearly impossible to rid of built-up dirt and debris. There may be an overwhelming assortment of pipes at your local hardware or home improvement store, but so long as you find one that’s an appropriate size with smooth, rigid walls and semipermeable PVC, the fruits of your labor won’t get flushed down the drain. 


Mistake 3: Installing Drain Holes In The Wrong Direction

Many people assume that drain holes should be facing 180 degrees away from the foundation of the house and therefore pointing in a horizontal direction. In actuality, you always want the holes of your French drain’s pipes to be pointing downward and towards the soil. This may sound counterintuitive, but keep in mind that a horizontally laid pipe will filter out water less quickly than one with gravity on its side. So long as you keep drain contents as low as possible and point them in the proper ground-facing direction, you’ll likely avoid any overflow issues.



Mistake 4: Selecting The Wrong Stones

The stones you use for your French drain have a crucial influence on the efficacy of the build, whether they’re a form of coarse gravel or a large and tightly packed mound of masonry. When you go to shop for your drainage rock, note the difference between base stone and clear stone. Base stone is typically rougher and dustier, as it has not been washed or treated in advance. Clear stone has been rinsed and cleansed of the fine dust particles produced from quarrying and stone-crushing processes. 

Why does a bit of dust matter? It’s more than an aesthetic issue. Fine dust particles, if used in your French drain system, will eventually be rinsed in the drain itself, causing the bits of debris to empty into your PVC pipes and clog them. Over time, the abrasive texture of the dust particles may damage or compromise the structural integrity of your pipes’ plastic coating, increasing the likelihood of breaks, cracks, and bursts in the future. 


Mistake 5: Not Hiring Professional Help

It’s understandable that many homeowners take pride in their DIY abilities, but there are certain projects that can benefit immensely from a bit of professional help. Whether you just need advice on selecting the right drainage pipe and stones or you need major modifications made to your landscape and retaining walls, a professional landscape management and construction crew is the way to go. 



Twelve Oaks Landscape Co. services cities across Eastern Alabama, as well as areas in Georgia and Tennessee. So whether you’re in Chattanooga or Madison County, we’ll help you avoid these French drain installation mistakes and ensure that your irrigation systems are never a problem, just a solution. Still wondering “Why Twelve Oaks?” Simply contact us today to learn more!

Outdoor Kitchen Designs & Ideas

An outdoor kitchen isn’t like your standard interior cooking and dining area — it’s better! Outdoor kitchens allow you to enjoy the great outdoors and the pleasant summer weather as you prepare meals for your family or entertain friends, but if it isn’t designed in quite the right way, you may find yourself rushing back inside to grab utensils, dishes, or food items. 

In this guide from Twelve Oaks Landscape Co., we’ll give you some professional tips on how to maximize your outdoor living space. Incorporating these design and construction concepts will not only enhance the functionality of your outdoor kitchen, but it will also better reflect the aesthetic personality you’ve envisioned! For more information and assistance on creating your ideal backyard oasis, please contact our landscaping professionals in Chattanooga and surrounding areas today.

Stylize Your Space

First and foremost, you’ll need to consider what you plan to use your outdoor kitchen area for. Do you anticipate using it primarily for family meals, or do you want to host large get-togethers with friends and neighbors? Will you need lots of countertop space or just a small prep area? The way you intend to use your outdoor kitchen will determine the best way to stylize it. 

Countertop Concepts

The countertop layout you select for your outdoor kitchen area should make food preparation and dining a more enjoyable experience, so it makes sense that there are some best practices for optimizing convenience and efficiency. There are two primary layouts for countertops: L-shaped and U-shaped. An L-shaped countertop layout will maximize efficiency and space, giving you additional space to store appliances, cookware, and built-in grills and fixtures. A U-shaped outdoor kitchen concept is more compact but also highly convenient, allowing you to navigate from task to task so you can get food served up sooner for your family and guests.

Many outdoor kitchens are built directly outside the indoor kitchen area, especially if it’s near a window or sliding door. This makes practical sense, as it minimizes the distance you’ll have to travel when transporting groceries or carrying dishes between your backyard and interior living space. You may also consider adding an island with counter-height chairs; this gives you some additional space to prepare food and creates an alternative dining experience, whether it’s a casual barbecue sit-down or a sophisticated bar-style scene. Islands are also perfect for buffet lineups, so you’ll never have to worry about where you’ll put your self-serve dishes at the next neighborhood potluck. 

Design Elements For All Styles

From minimalistic to rustic to modern, there’s a design concept for every outdoor aesthetic. If you have a smaller backyard with limited space, a minimalist design is likely a great option. If you can spare to use some more square footage or want to splurge on decor, check out our suggestions for rustic and modern designs. 


Small backyard living spaces can still accommodate all the essentials of an outdoor kitchen. Start the process by selecting a high-quality grill and making it the centerpiece of your concept. Add a small seating area around the grill, fitting two to four chairs in front of an island bar or a high-top table. You may want to add a sink or a small range, as well as a storage cabinet or two. Minimalism is all about maximizing space without sacrificing functionality, but you can certainly still add decorative accents to make this area your own. Just a simple umbrella or decorative rug can go a long way in making your small outdoor kitchen feel like a comfortable and open place.


In an area like Chattanooga, the sprawling green hills and tree coverage are perfectly complemented by a rustic design style featuring rocks, wood, and stone accents. When selecting appliances for your outdoor kitchen, opt for burnished bronze, iron, and copper in lieu of all stainless-steel gadgets. Rather than a porcelain backsplash, a polished pebble mosaic may do just as well, and it will go great with a concrete dining table too! Planning to do a lot of grilling or cooking with an oven? Wooden fire pits and wood-burning stoves give you all the culinary benefits of a gas grill with all the aesthetic appeal of an old-fashioned furnace.


Just because your kitchen is an outdoor living space doesn’t mean you have rough it. Modern designs can be seamlessly integrated into your backyard kitchen. Cool grays and blues for accents will complement your all-weather stainless steel appliances and fixtures, from chrome sinks to metallic handles on cabinet doors. Whether you’re planning on having an island eating area or a full-sized dining table, marble countertops can be treated to withstand the elements of the outdoors and are available in a variety of neutral hues. Finally, add a bit of personal flair with vibrant seat upholstery or a few potted plants.

Ready To Get Cooking?

Once you’ve decided on your kitchen countertop layout and general design theme, it’s time to get to work on building out your outdoor oasis. There’s a lot of work that goes into constructing a backyard living area, but you’ll never feel lost or alone when you work with a professional from Twelve Oaks Landscape Co. Whether you’re in Chattanooga or a surrounding city in Alabama, we have the bandwidth to come directly to you and give you guidance on how to maximize space and stay within budget. Contact us today to learn more about our services in outdoor living design, landscape management, lawn care, and more!

Design Ideas For Outdoor Living Spaces

For the first half of the 20th century, interior decor was the hallmark of any residential property and little attention was paid to the design and construction of outdoor living spaces. But around the 1950s, a marked shift emerged in the world of property enhancement, and suddenly the backyard became an essential component of any welcoming and functional home. 

Outdoor living spaces have undergone massive improvements in the last few decades, as demonstrated by industry innovations in patio furniture, landscape construction, and even heavy-duty appliances suitable for all types of weather conditions. Twelve Oaks Landscape Co. provides Chattanooga and surrounding Tennessee communities with professional-grade contracting services for outdoor living spaces. In this article, we’ll review some of the latest and greatest design ideas for backyard living spaces, giving you the inspiration you need to get ahead on those yard improvement projects before the heat of summer hits! 

Monochromatic & Modern

Almost any homeowner can picture the arrangement of a basic backyard patio: a few wicker chairs, a table, and perhaps a charcoal or gas grill. There’s nothing wrong with a minimalistic design approach to your outdoor living space, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a bit of fun playing around with modern design trends like monochromatic color schemes. 

In lush areas like Chattanooga, there are a variety of colors that can complement the surrounding greenery and rolling hills. Many of our clients opt for all-white concepts, from patio furniture to tabletops to masonry. The lighter hues are not only elegant and timeless, but they also act as a natural heat reflector, keeping your backyard oasis as cool as a cucumber all summer long. 

Hearth & Soul

Outdoor living areas of the past often had few options for outdoor heating elements. While some may have included a small barbecue pit, even the best-selling charco-broiler back then would have trouble measuring up to the aesthetic and functional appeal of a modern outdoor fire pit. Incorporating both rustic and refined design elements, the outdoor fire pit combines the natural allure of a campfire, the comfort of a fireplace, and the durability of a stone hearth. Use it as a centerpiece for social gatherings, a heat source on cooler nights, or an open-air oven that cooks all of your favorite summertime dishes. And be sure to take advantage of the countless options for customization, from stone to copper to cast-iron steel.

Outdoor Kitchen Concepts

If you love to cook as much as you love the outdoors, but grills aren’t your preferred option for food preparation, outdoor kitchens give you the best of both worlds. Thanks to modern advancements in culinary gadgets, nearly any kitchen appliance or tool is now available in an outdoor-friendly design. From bar centers to refrigerators to complete dining area sets, there’s an outdoor kitchen concept for all kinds of chefs.

Start Designing Your Outdoor Living Space Today

With summer just around the corner and a few weeks of mild weather still remaining, it’s the perfect time to get started on your outdoor tasks and landscape construction projects. Whether you’re ready to build a full-scale outdoor kitchen or you want to start small by enhancing your stone patio with a matching fire pit, Twelve Oaks Landscape Co. has the materials, tools, and expertise to get the job done in a timely and affordable manner. Contact our team of local landscapers today to get more information about our lawncare and contracting services in Chattanooga.

Black pruning shears beside gardening gloves and various landscaping tools. Photo by Eco Warrior Princess on Unsplash.

Highlighting Our Landscaping Services

In Atlanta, landscape maintenance can be a near year-round affair. That’s why Twelve Oaks Landscape Co. is here to help relieve you of the burden. In this article, we’ll highlight just a few of our diverse and useful services in landscape design, landscape construction, and yard and garden management. 

For more information on how we can help your Southern home sparkle with renewed springtime charm, please contact Twelve Oaks Landscape Co. today and request a free quote. 

Landscape Design Services

Our landscape design services are as diverse as the landscape of Georgia itself. At Twelve Oaks, we offer specialized solutions for yard drainage, landscape lighting, sodding, planting, and so much more.

A yard that doesn’t drain properly can cause swampy conditions or damage the foundational structure of your home. Odds are, if you’re a homeowner or even a renter, you take pride in your home, so you probably don’t want that to happen!

In addition to drainage solutions, we offer state-of-the-art landscaping lighting designs. Whether it’s to illuminate your flowerbeds or to highlight the perimeter of your expansive backyard in the spring evenings, we have the systems, products, and service skills to get your lawn looking as “lit” as ever.

Planting is yet another one of our landscape designs services that we love to emphasize. We can design a one-of-a-kind planting scheme for your property, whether it’s a sprawling section of shrubbery or a plethora of potted plants. 

Lastly, let’s talk about grass. When it comes to sodding, the backbreaking labor and tedious tasks can be a burden for even the most fervent gardeners. That’s why we take care of the dirty work — literally! — proudly donning our work gloves as we go to town giving you a new, vibrant, verdant lawn.

Landscape Construction Services

Once the initial design of your landscape is laid out, it’s time to move on to construction and building. At Twelve Oaks Landscape Co., we can execute virtually any project your mind can muster, from modern outdoor refuges to commercial environment en plein air

Thanks to our diverse arsenal of heavy and specialized equipment, such as concrete pavers and stone-cutters, we can sculpt and structure your landscape into the build of your dreams. Your vision doesn’t have to remain in blueprint form; let us breathe life into your architectural and agricultural aspirations.

From fire pits and fireplaces to outdoor kitchens and elaborate water features, we have everything you need to create a paradise on your very own property. 

Yard & Garden Management  

If there’s one thing people complain about when the Atlanta temperatures start to rise, it’s the exhausting chores related to yard and garden management. Don’t sweat it, though; our landscape management professionals have you covered.

With spring just around the corner, what better way to welcome the start of a new time of year than with a leaf removal followed by a seasonal flower planting session? Our team of gardeners and landscape experts will visit your property, take care of last season’s wilted leaves, and leave behind a fresh base of flowers that will thrive from the early days of spring until the final dog days of summer. 


We know that Atlanta, Georgia, homeowners and businesses love the great outdoors but don’t always love the work and upkeep that comes with it. Now that you know the wide variety of top-notch services that Twelve Oaks Landscape Co. has to offer, why not give us a call? After all, there’s not much to lose from a quick dial and a free consultation. Get in touch with us today. We can’t wait to grow something great together!

Pruning Crepe Myrtles: A How-To Guide

Known both as crepe myrtles and crape myrtles, this beautiful flowering southern tree thrives year round, offering spectators a visual treat no matter the season. Boasting eye-catching blooms and attractive bark, this flowering tree blooms on new wood. That means pruning is essential to the success of this tree. Winter and early spring are ideal times to get out the pruners because they are leafless, which makes it easier to spot the branches. But don’t just hack away. There is a method to the madness! Here are some tips:

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Common Lawn Care Mistakes and How to Fix Them

Do you look longingly at your neighbor’s lush green lawn and wonder why his is so perfect? Do you go by the books and try to get your lawn to look the same to no avail? Well, you may be taking the wrong approach. You’re not alone, though. Many homeowners make mistakes on a daily basis in regards to weed control, grass growth and maintenance. Here are some common lawn care mistakes you may be making, and tips on how to fix them. Soon, YOUR yard will be the envy of the neighborhood.

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Your Guide to Pruning Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas are a common plant in the South and are thus included in many home and business landscapes. Many home owners and landscapers mistakenly think the best time to prune these bushes is in February; however, this isn’t entirely true when you take a look at how these flowers develop. According to the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, some hydrangeas bloom on “old wood” while others on “new wood.” If they are on old wood, this means the blooms are produced by buds stemming from the previous summer; buds forming on this year’s growth show up on new wood. As an example, big leaf and oak leaf bloom on old wood; smooth and Panicle hydrangeas bloom on new wood.

Pruning shrubs that bloom on old wood right after flowering will prevent the removal of the developing buds for next year. August is when the next year’s buds start to form. Shrubs on new wood would be best pruned in late winter or early spring so new blooms are encouraged. Check out these maintenance tips:

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Preserving Your Pavers: Protect Them From Debris

If you have pavers in your backyard for a patio, walkway or garden area, you know how beautiful and functional they can be. However, if you fail to keep up with maintenance, they will fall victim to staining, pitting, and cracking from debris and the effects of weather. It’s a fact of life: people will spill wine, soda, and food on your pavers. Nature will drop acorns, falling limbs, leaves and pine needles on your pavers. You can’t really avoid all that, but you can take some preventive measures to ensure these decorative exterior surfaces withstand abuse from the environment, people, pets and weather.

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