A gutter system is a cruicial part of your home that collects the water captured by your roof. Without it, rain runs off of your roof, splashes against your house and erodes the ground. Over time, this can result in permature wear and damage to your siding, erosion of your landscaping, and potentially even flooding of your basement or crawl space and damage to the foundation of your home.
However, just as important as collecting the water from your roof is carrying the water away from the perimeter of your house.
The picture below, which we found at givemetalk.com, demonstrates how NOT to handle the runoff coming from a downspout. In this photo, water is being collected into a shallow pool of gravel. While this may prevent the water from splashing and eroding the immediate area around the downspout, it doesn't address the distribution of runoff. It's like putting a funnel in a cup and then pouring a gallon of water through: the cup overflows and the water has nowhere to go. The end effect: water will oversaturate the soil underneath the gravel, destabilizing the soil and potentially flooding the crawlspace. Over time, it could even damage the home's foundation.
At a minimum, this downspout should...