If you are planning to start rain harvesting this year, you might want to install gutter guards now in preparation.
Yes, that is a cactus ... growing in a rain gutter on a patio cover.

Yes, that is a cactus ... growing in a rain gutter on a patio cover.

Or maybe you are not that eco-friendly: Maybe you are just sick and tired of cleaning your gutters or removing things that are actually growing in them, like the cactus and dandelions shown above in this California home. Either way, gutter guards might be sounding like a better idea to you all the time.

What are Gutter Guards?

Simply put, gutter guards or gutter covers allow water to drain off your roof while keeping leaves and other debris out. Nationally-syndicated newspaper columnist Tim Carter has done extensive study on gutter guards and has sampled many styles. Here’s what worked best for him:

Gutter Cover Study Results

Carter said that many of the gutter covers that he sampled had holes or slits that were large enough to allow in small leaves and debris–especially in spring. After the rainy months, he said small buds and other things from trees fell through many of the holes designed for rainwater, causing clogs and build-up. One type of barrier actually fell concave into the gutter and needed to be pulled out and cleaned–you might as well not have a gutter cover in that case!

For Carter, the best results came from the micro-mesh of Master Shield. It stayed taut across the gutter, kept out all sizes of debris and did not need to be cleaned all year. When you shop for gutter guards, look for similar features in the product you choose.

Do it Yourself Gutter Guards?

Companies like Master Shield offer installation, but if you are choosing to install gutter guards yourself, then select a style that comes in shorter, more manageable pieces–three-feet lengths, for example, instead of ten-feet lengths.