Leaf Guards – Do They Really Work?

Leaf guards are installed over or inside your gutters to keep debris, mainly large leaves, from clogging up the gutter pipes. Because cleaning gutters is such an undesirable chore, you’ve probably started wondering how well a leaf guard would do to reduce your workload and make the gutters a lot more functional. While leaf guards may keep some of the larger debris like leaves and twigs out of your gutters they can cause a number of problems overall and still require cleaning (so will your gutters).

Unfortunately, this is where to bad news comes in. You can get a leaf guard that will work, but you have to do some searching and inspect your gutters to find out which ones might work best for your home and location. Not all leaf guards are the same. While a lot of them are fairly ineffective at either blocking debris or catching large amounts of water, there are leaf guards that do actually work well also but the best it can do is lengthen the time between cleanings.

Types and Styles of Gutter Guards

Most cheaper leaf guards will not be able to do both of these jobs effectively. They will either work well at catching leaves and debris or they will catch large rainfall water. Getting a leaf guard which does both effectively will probably cost a bit more than the average, although it will probably be worth it for the sake of less maintenance and lower risks of damage to your home. The average leaf guard cost can range to up to $25 per foot. Here are some of the basic types of leaf guard styles to help you choose which one is the right for you: 

These are the 6 basic types of leaf guards:

Reverse Curve/Surface Tension

These types are completely closed on top but feature a curved tip that causes water to drop down into the gutter while leaves and debris fall to the ground below. These can fantastic for getting rid of leaves, but are highly ineffective when the rain is too heavy. Light and medium-light rainstorms are not a problem, but heavy rain falls to the ground below rather than going into the gutters.

Mesh Screen Cover

Mesh covers are just what they sound like. You can install a covering over the top of your gutter that will not allow larger items to pass through while still letting rain through. Certain types are better than others, but that depends mostly on what you have around your home.

Bottle Brush/Bristle

Small bristles are installed through the gutters that keep large debris out of the gutters while allowing an easy flow of water. Unfortunately, they can get clogged fairly easily.


These leaf guards work well for leaves and for snow and ice in the winter, though they can be pricier depending on the style you get.

Non-Gutter cover

These aren’t technically leaf guards; they are complete gutter replacements. They do a good job of properly pushing water off the roof without collecting debris.

Foam Type

Foam leaf guards fit inside your gutters and block large debris from getting inside. They are supposed to allow water through around the foam but aren’t always effective with large downpours.

While there are few types of guards that can help in some situation, they generally are so cost prohibitive, we don’t recommend them.  We have never ran across a gutter guard that we didn’t have to clean under and that includes gutter helmets.