How I Diverted Water From the Gutter Downspouts

2 Materials
3 Hours

I don't know about you, but I never really worried about where the water from our gutter downspouts flowed. Not that I started to worry, but since I've been landscaping around them, I've been paying more attention to those areas. Also, we had our gutters cleaned out recently AND it's been really rainy here this Spring! I ended up creating a rock river for three of the downspouts - the 4th one lands in a bark bed and waters the plants close by.

So much rain this Spring!

Here is the view looking southwest over our back fence right before one of our Spring storms this year.

1st downspout - Front flower bed

Not long after the gutter cleaning, we had a heavy rainfall. I noticed that the flower bed in the front of the house ended up being very muddy. At that time, I knew I needed to address the downspout area.

Lots of rock

I had seen people using rocks to divert water from their downspouts and liked that look. Besides, our soil is very rocky so I have a lot of rock laying around. Every time I dug a hole to plant, I'd end up with lots of rocks of all sizes. I lined both the front and back fence lines and along the house with rock so I had a lot to choose from to make the river beds. You can see the pile of rock in this picture. The ones with soil on them came out of the hole I dug to plant this Azalea.

Rock river

Once I made the decision to build a little rock bed, I removed soil to create a place to sit the rocks. I also opened up where the end of the rock bed would be by moving one of the border bricks.

Wide enough?

After building the bed, I wondered if I made the area under the downspout wide enough.

Rain the next day - test
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With all the rain we've been having, I didn't have long to wait. The very next day, I was able to see how the rock river worked.

Thunderstorm! - Test
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A few days later, we had a thunderstorm hit! I went out after it stopped raining super hard to see how the bed was holding up. So happy to see that it is working!

2nd downspout - planter box

I didn't get a picture, but during one of our storms, I saw that the water from this downspout created a river around this planter.

Rock river created

To create the rock river bed here, I removed some of the grass so I could divert the water to the driveway. When I built the bed, once again, I wasn't certain that it was wide enough right under the spout. I hoped that I would be proven wrong like I was with the first bed.

Thunderstorm test - Too narrow

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Well, with the latest thunderstorm, I found out that this time, the bed was too narrow. I plan to widen it before the next rain is expected - in 3 more days.

3rd downspout - bark bed

The last downspout I addressed was in the backyard, right outside the door to the garage. A couple of years ago, I put in a bark bed and lined it with cement blocks. At the time, I left the downspout area alone. When it rained, the water poured onto the cement block below the spout and then drained into the bed. Even though I used landscape cloth below the bark, there was never an issue with drainage. This picture of the area is before the bark was added and before I leveled the blocks.

New look - last rock river

After doing some landscaping in the front yard last year, I decided to revamp the look of the bark beds in the back. After living with the design for a couple of years, I felt like it was too boxy. Using the bullet bricks like I had used in the front yard, I widened the bed a bit and curved the edges. While I was working in the bed, I added a little rock river. I just love the new look!

Thunderstorm test

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We've had several rains since I installed this rock river, but the last storm really showed how well it works!

4th downspout

The last downspout on the house drops water right into the back of this bark bed (I've updated it also with a new, curvier look) and waters plants. I left it as is.

These rock river beds don't take a lot of time to build and if you also have rocky soil, they cost nothing!

Suggested materials:

  • Garden shovel  (On hand)
  • Rock  (On hand)

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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

2 questions
  • Pad19221163
    on Jun 30, 2020

    I am a member of Kindness Rock Movement. Painting rocks with pics & positive stmts. Have several around my yard painted by grandkids. Might spice up yr rain gutter diversions.

  • Sue Fenlon Buckland
    on Jul 11, 2020

    I live in FL with no gutters on our house & with our daily thunderstorms, the rain creates a bit of a gully where the rain drips from the roof. Do you think your river of rocks would work without gutters in my planted areas? Very sandy soil so it drains well but creates that dip that looks ugly.  Thanks!

    • Jeanne
      on Jul 12, 2020

      I would think so. It should help divert the water and prevent the gully action.

Join the conversation

4 of 42 comments
  • Arlene
    on Jul 1, 2020

    I am doing this at the back of our garage!!! This is great, why didn’t I remember this

    • Jeanne
      on Jul 1, 2020

      You'll love it! It's pouring rain again today so I went out to check on how these rock rivers are doing and it is making such a difference in where the rain water goes!

  • Katherine Somma
    on Jul 2, 2020

    Absolutely love this,will work on one of my gutters this weekend,great job.

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