A few notes on creating a garden drainage system
Firstly the only way a drainage system works is if the water has somewhere to drain to after it has been collected. A soak away is simple a means to collect a flash flood of water and the idea is that it soaks into the surrounding soil over a period of time if the soak away is constructed in a clay soil this is not going to happen. Most people just dig a soak away with no through about how the drainage water will be removed from the soak away.
The best solution is a soak away thats linked to your surface water drains through a silt trap that collect silt in the water and stops the surface drains from becoming blocked. Other solutions possible are draining into ditches and other such structures.
Normally and in every occasion we have come across its been allowed to drain the water into the surface drainage system as long as the water goes through a silt trap.
French drains these are just a trenches full of stones/gravel if the problem is surface water then often the stone in the trench is extended to the surface to intercept the water as it flows over the ground or through the surface of the soil. In most French drains we construct we add a small diameter flexible pipe at the base of the trench covered by stone so the drain can be cleaned because at some stage a French drain will become blocked with silt etc
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