If your basement floods or water pools on your patio, installing a French drain is one inexpensive way to solve the problem.

It’s easy to assume that French drains come from France. Au contraire! They’re actually a 19th-century creation made popular by Henry French, a Massachusetts man who was a farmer, investor, judge, and even assistant secretary to the U.S. Treasury.

A French drain is a trench that redirects surface water and groundwater. French drains use gravel and often (but not always) a perforated pipe.