Strip drains work on the same principles as a traditional perforated pipe system. That is, water flows into the system and, using the force of gravity, facilitates drainage. We can think of these technologies as different steps along a timeline.
For most of human history, we either didn’t utilize drainage at all. Instead, people opted to settle on higher ground or use simple trenches and landscaping to direct water. Eventually, most likely in the mid-19th century, the French drain was invented. Essentially a gravel-filled trench, the French drain was one of the first truly effective drainage solutions.
Next came the perforated pipe. First made from clay and now made from plastic or metal, a perforated pipe is placed in a trench, holes facing down, so that water rises, flows into the system, and then drains away.
Each of these systems was more effective than the last but eventually succumbed to clogging and other issues.
More recently, the strip drain has become the drainage tool of choice. Strip drains are flexible and thus capable of being rolled for easy transport to the worksite. Strip drains are manufactured from plastic and are generally installed on their side in narrow trenches, simplifying the strip drain installation process.