How to Keep Plants from Growing in Your Gutters

plants growing in gutters

Plants are lovely additions to gardens, but not to your gutters. In fact, seeing plants growing from your gutters means trouble. Gutters protect your home’s foundation and exterior from water damage, but they can’t do their job if they’re filthy and clogged with plants. Let’s discover how to keep your gutters clean, including ways to stop plants from growing in your gutters.

What Causes Plants to Grow in Your Gutters?

If you don’t clean your gutters or they aren’t at the right slope, leaves, pine needles, and other debris build up in your gutters. Over time, the debris breaks down, creating composted organic matter. Moss, mildew, and mold grow, and wind-blown seeds from nearby trees take root. Soon, your gutters will be the perfect breeding ground for weeds, grass, trees, and other plants.

Photo Credit: BanksPhotos / Canva Pro / License

Ways to Stop Plants from Growing in Your Gutters

Plant growth in your gutters seems impossible, but it happens more frequently than you’d think. There are plenty of reasons to clean your gutters, but gutter maintenance is easy to forget, and debris piles up fast.

Here’s what you can do to ensure plants don’t grow in your gutter system.

Clean Your Gutters Regularly

When you clean your rain gutters regularly, leaves, pine needles, and other debris don’t have time to break down, and seeds don’t have a chance to sprout. Other reasons for regularly cleaning your gutters include preventing blockages, ice dams, animal infestations, and more.

Clean Your Downspouts

Your downspouts can get clogged, preventing the water from flowing, which creates a backlog of rainwater in your gutter system. The standing water in your gutters can cause water damage, become a breeding ground for mosquitoes, and provide water for plants to grow.

Check Your Gutter’s Slope

The gutter slope needs to be ¼- ½ inch for every 10 feet of gutter length. If your gutter slope is not steep enough, debris and rainwater can’t drain down the downspout properly. The built-up debris becomes mulch, and soon, plants are growing in your gutters. If your gutters are not sloped properly, adjust their pitch.

Install Gutter Guards

Gutter guards are wired mesh screens mounted over your gutters to prevent falling leaves and debris from getting into your gutter. Because they help prevent leaves from getting into the gutter, you’re less likely to have gutter plants. However, tiny bits of debris and seeds can squeeze through, so you will still need to clean your gutters occasionally.

hand cleaning the roof gutter
Photo Credit: BanksPhotos / Canva Pro / License

How Often Should You Clean Your Gutters?

Homeowners should clean their gutters at least twice a year. The best time of year is in late spring and then again in early or late fall. But if your house is surrounded by trees (especially pine trees), your gutters need to be cleaned every one to three months.

You also need to monitor the weather. If a big storm is coming, then check your gutters. If they’re dirty, give them a quick cleaning so they can function properly when the deluge starts. If you don’t get a chance to clean them, don’t stress. Clean them out after the debris has dried – dry leaves are easier to clear away than wet leaves.

Professional Gutter Cleaning vs. DIY Gutter Cleaning

Plants grown on a rain gutter
Photo Credit: MichelleMorrisonPhoto / Canva Pro / License

For a DIY home improvement project, gutter cleaning is relatively easy. But it’s also time-consuming, a lot of work, and a little dangerous. On the other hand, a professional gutter cleaning service takes care of everything, but it comes with a price. Let’s weigh the positives of DIY gutter cleaning and professional gutter cleaning.

Pros of DIY Gutter Cleaning

  • Cost: You only pay for the tools you use, not the labor costs.
  • Pride: Knowing how to clean gutters plus the sense of accomplishment when caring for your home equals well-deserved pride and contentment.
  • Control: You have complete control of the job, including how it’s done, how often it’s done, and how well it’s done.
  • Maintenance management: Because you can monitor your gutters firsthand, you’ll notice when problems crop up. You can fix the minor issues before they become big ones.

Pros of Professional Gutter Cleaning

  • Safety: Falls are the second most common home accident death. Practicing safe ladder use is important, but it’s also not foolproof. Having an experienced and insured professional to do the job eliminates your fall risk.
  • Spot problems: A professional gutter cleaning company can inspect your gutters while they clean them, spotting any possible problems or repairs that need to be made.
  • Time-saving: Gutter cleaning takes at least a few hours. If you have to make repairs, it could take a whole lot longer.
  • Cleaner: Dealing with outdoor debris is filthy work, especially when cleaning your gutters

Whether you DIY your gutter cleaning or hire a professional, regular maintenance will prevent gutter damage.

FAQ About Cleaning Gutters

What is a gutter garden?

A gutter garden is essentially a garden in a gutter that’s not in use or attached to a roof’s border. They are old gutters that can be attached to a fence or hung. Typically, a gutter garden consists of several gutters that are 2-3 feet long and stacked. Because the container is small, you need to plant smaller plants.

Examples of gutter garden plants include:

• Basil
• Mint
• Radish
• Rosemary
• Snap peas
• Spinach
• Strawberries

Gutter gardens are a fun landscaping idea, especially if you have limited space.

How do I prevent leaves from clogging my gutters?

If you have trees, you’ll have leaf debris which can end up in your gutter. But there are a few things you can do to keep leaves out of your gutters.

• Trim your trees
• Install gutter guards
• Use repellent to keep out critters
• Practice regular gutter maintenance

How do I clean gutters without a ladder?

You don’t need a ladder to clean your gutters. With gutter-specific tools or attachments, you can clean gutters from the ground.

These are a few ways to clean your gutters without a ladder.

Gutter tongs: Gutter tongs are tongs on a long pole. They enable you to grab the debris from your gutter.
Gutter vacuum: A gutter vacuum is a specialty vac. They’re designed to clean gutters, and they’re especially good at clearing clogged gutters.
Hose attachment: A gutter cleaning wand hose attachment goes right on the end of your hose. This may be the cheapest option because you don’t have to buy an additional power tool.
Leaf blower: Gutter-cleaning attachments are available for your leaf blower. Keep in mind that it can get pretty messy if you have a lot of gutter debris.
Pressure washer: For a pressure washer, telescoping wand attachments are available, but you’re going to get wet. Don’t clean damaged gutters with a power washer because the high-velocity water creates further damage.

How Do I Find a Gutter-Cleaning Professional?

Hiring a contractor is difficult, but there are a few things to look for in a gutter cleaning company.

  • Insured: Hiring an insured company helps to protect them and you from property damage, accidents, and more.
  • Licensed: Hire a licensed professional whenever possible. But not all states require gutter contractors to be licensed. For example, Texas does not require licenses for gutter cleaning professionals.
  • Check reviews: While not all reviews, good and bad, are earned, usually there’s a trend. If you see an overwhelming number of good reviews, add them to your shortlist.
  • Get quotes: Once you find a few companies for your shortlist, ask for at least three quotes. You’ll be able to compare them to find the best contractor for you and your budget.

If the process of finding a gutter contractor is stressing you out, MyGutterGnome can help. We’ll connect you with a highly-rated, local gutter professional. Your gutters will be plant-free and sparkling clean in no time.

Main Image Credit: wzfs1s / Canva Pro / License

Nicki DeStasi

Nicki DeStasi is a writer, author, and teacher who grew up in western Massachusetts and currently resides in the Austin area. She enjoys flower and vegetable gardening, reading, cooking, listening to true-crime podcasts, and spending time with her husband, three children, dog, and cat.