5 Ways Gutters Are Affecting Landscape
Gutter issues can wreak havoc on your landscaping! If you have invested significantly in beautifying your home’s exterior, you’ll want to make sure you avoid these gutter issues that can destroy all of your hard work.
We can almost always trace landscape issues to one problem: gutters do not route water where they are supposed to. Instead, water flows over the front edge of the gutter directly onto mulch, trees, shrubs, or flowers. The result is a huge mess! If you have walked out of your house after a rain event and notice that mulch is no longer in your neat flower bed, but has spilled over into the yard or onto the driveway, your gutters are probably the culprit. It is likely that at that site, your gutters have been overflowing, dumping water directly onto your landscaping.
Why might your gutters overflow? There are five main reasons:
1.) The gutters are clogged, and water must exit the roof over the gutter's edge instead of via the intended pathway to the ground – the downspout. Many things can clog gutters, including:
Leaves and other organic debris play a large role. Nearly 90% of gutter overflow is caused by leaves or other foreign materials backing up the gutter. If you have tall, mature trees near your home, you will probably see leaves accumulating inside your gutters all year long, especially in fall.
Another material you may find resting in the bottom of your gutters is an accumulation of asphalt shingle granules. It is normal for granules to shed from your roof’s shingles as they age. However, there can be an accelerated shedding of those granules during harsh weather, like extended hail events. If you are experiencing gutter clogs due to asphalt granules, it may be because your gutters are well overdue for a cleaning.
Ice may also be clogging your gutters. In below-freezing temperatures, any moderate blockage can result in your gutters becoming clogged with ice. If it takes too long for temperatures to rise above freezing, the ice can stay in the gutter for a really long time. Ice is a heavy burden on gutters; they cannot withstand the extra weight. As a result, they may pull away from your roof or sag. Further, water expands as it freezes, putting a strain on the gutter. The gutter could separate or crack because of the strain.
2.) Your downspouts could be clogged. Clogged downspouts force water back up the gutter, where it flows over the edge and onto your landscape. The only difference here is the origin of the clog that stops water from being routed away from your house. Instead of debris filling the top of your gutters, it has become lodged in your downspout. Most clogs are leaves and similar material. Sometimes, though, pests are tempted to make a home inside your downspout and build a nest or get stuck.
3.) Extremely heavy rain events can be too much for your gutters to handle, even if they are in perfect condition. This may be the case especially if your gutters are smaller in size. For every one inch of rain that falls on a 1000 square foot house, 600 gallons of water will flow off the roof. In extreme rain events, “heavy rain” may fall .3 inches per hour or higher. In such a case, gutters need to move 3 gallons or more per minute in heavy rain.
4.) Someone installed the gutters incorrectly, allowing water to pool and eventually overflow onto your landscape below. Gutters should be installed at a pitch, with a slope of ½ inch for every 10 feet. Without this pitch, water will not be able to drain adequately, and your landscape will be vulnerable to damage when that water flows over the edge of your gutters.
5.) The gutters have pulled away from your home or are sagging. Damaged gutters, even if they were originally installed correctly, cannot be effective in routing water away from your home safely. If your gutters are pulling away from your roof, water might not even make it to the gutter before immediately dumping onto the ground.
Regardless of how your gutters vs. landscaping battle starts, there are a few straightforward ways you can preserve the beauty of your landscaping.
You can start with prevention. Since the main threat to your landscaping is a clogged gutter overflowing, be sure to schedule regular maintenance for your gutters. Gutterworks can ensure your gutters are clear and properly operating.
Another mode of prevention is to install gutter guards on your gutters. While leaves and debris still fall on top of even the most advanced gutter guards we install, our experts at Gutterworks will confirm that maintenance on gutters outfitted with the guards is much less intensive and is not needed as often. Plus, the debris can no longer enter a gutter equipped with a gutter guard, and that is a major advantage.
If there is a particular section of your gutters that you have struggled to keep flowing, install a heavier material, like pea gravel as your landscape medium instead of mulch. It will be less likely to become displaced should water start to overflow. You can also install an edging piece to contain the gravel as an extra prevention measure.
At Gutterworks, we are here to help. If you have any questions about gutter guards or regular maintenance, give us a call at (304)848-9870, so we can lend a hand in keeping your landscaping beautiful this year.