The Best Gutter Guards For Pine Needles
Pine needles cause major problems for your gutters if you live under or near pine or fir trees. The long and flexible needles fall in clumps. (The easy way to tell if a tree is pine and not any other type of conifer is by its needles. If the tree has needles that form in bundles or clumps called fascicles, it is a pine tree. If they have single needles, it is not.) They tend to clog gutters at a rapid pace because the first thing that they do is knit together over the opening that drains water to your downspout. Even a few falling in these bundles causes the whole gutter to back up and overflow if the amount of water that flows out of your downspout is limited.
If you’re looking for gutter guards that won’t allow a single pine needle to enter your gutter, you’ve come to the right place.
And want to make sure your gutter guards don’t suffer from the second greatest cause of gutter guard failure?
The Copper Makes the Difference!
Homeowners without pine or fir trees really don’t understand how bad these trees make gutter cleaning and why finding effective gutter guards for pine needles solves so many problems.
Unlike other gutter guards with larger openings that let material in to clump in the gutter, MasterShield’s are constructed with a non-stick, 316 surgical grade stainless steel microfilter that now features 99.9% pure copper threads woven throughout the filter. It does not allow the tips of pesky needles or other debris in.
In fact, nothing but water can get through a MasterShield protected gutter!
Top Features in a Gutter Guard to Stop Pine Needles From Clogging Gutters
First, you’ll want a system that slopes like your roof so it doesn’t create a surface where pine needles can build up. Unlike other systems, MasterShield is not installed flat or virtually flat. It is installed as close as possible to the pitch of the roof to minimize material build up and use wind or any natural airflow to blow the needles off your roof. If the surface over your gutter is virtually the same as the rest of your roof, your gutter cover acts as if it’s a part of the roof itself.
If you live with the problem of needles, you’re well aware that gutters collect this kind of debris fast as pine needles blow into your gutter by rolling down the roof or flow into it by mixing with rainwater.
As wind or rain slowly pushes the needles down to the roof’s edge, the won’t find a place to build up like they can on other products. Note the gutter guard won’t shed this debris any faster than the roof itself. Water has a much better chance of flowing though a system pitched this way because it flows through any layers of pine needle build up that may exist (think of a book where water can get between all the pages from it’s side rather than dropping onto the solid surface of its cover) better than it can get through a system that sits flat and creates that solid surface like the book cover.
Gutter guards without much pitch create a shelf for needles to collect and build on. Pitching the system allows wind to blow off more material, resulting in less maintenance than other systems require.
Contacts Roof Shingles
Secondly, MasterShield maintains contact with the roof shingles. Other systems that claim they don’t touch the shingles leave a gap between the shingle and the gutter guard. This causes a couple of issues:
- Pine needles can blow under and build up under the shingles, where they stay wet longer. This means they act as a sponge and cause premature aging to the shingle edge or to the wooden fascia board where the gutter is attached. Our Shingle Safe under-the-shingle installation methodology has been approved by GAF, Certainteed, IKO and Owens-Corning, so you can rest assure our guards for pine needles can be installed this way.
- Water that drops off of a shingle edge onto the gutter guards below have a tendency to splash more. That’s because water bounces off the filter once it drops onto the cover. This means the guard tends not to capture all of the water off the roof. Splashing water often leads to rot on any wooden surface it comes in contact with.
Fine Mesh Filter
A third feature of MasterShield is its fine mesh filter. A fine mesh means that needles can’t get stuck in the mesh. When a filter that has larger openings is used, it’s common to see needles stuck in the mesh of the gutter guard. A filter that has larger holes also creates a surface where debris catches on and gets stuck, meaning that it’s less likely to shed.
MasterShield’s filter surface is like Teflon, so it’s easy to brush clean of anything that sits on it (which means that wind does the work in most cases!)
The Touch Point Structure
The fourth feature of MasterShield is its touch point structure. This refers to the technology used to pull water into the gutter cover. Think of being in a tent in the rain and how dry you can stay with only a piece of cloth over your head. Then think of what happens when you touch the roof of the tent. That touch point creates a whole new scenario where you’ve created a way for water to get through the tent and flow down your finger.
A single touch point doesn’t do much, but a lot of them can, especially if your goal is to get all the water hitting your tent to flow into the tent itself.
That’s what we’re trying to do with our gutter guard technology. Touch points should be continuously placed underneath the filter, particularly if you add an angled pitch to the guard. If you don’t have enough touch points or stagger them in any way (it changes the forward flow of water), they are just not as efficient at pulling water into the gutter below.
The Moss Killer
Lastly, pine trees cast lots of shade. And shady conditions can lead to the growth of moss and lichen which exist in most parts of the country. Invisible spores from these organisms are everywhere looking for a place with enough moisture to grow. And isn’t a gutter or the gutter guard that exact place? The copper threads woven into our gutter guard are natural spore killers. Copper ions are released in water creating a hostile environment for any spore and making sure a MasterShield filter remains free from organic build up for many years.
What Pine Trees Will MasterShield Protect You From?
MasterShield will keep out all of the needles from common North American pines such as:
- Eastern White Pine – a messy but fast growing tree found in Zones 3-8. It bears five needles per bundle, some say these bundles look like little brushes. It drops pine cones, sap and pollen in the spring along with needles which all contribute to its messiness.
- Western White Pine – also called Silver Pine or California Mountain Pine. It also has needles in bundles of 5 but they tend to stay on the tree longer that the Eastern White Pine (2–3 years, rather than 1.5–2 years). Its cones are larger and it grows taller, too. It’s hardy to Zone 4.
- Sugar Pine – another tree of the Pacific Northwest, this tree is also has 5 needle bundles. It has the largest cones and grows the tallest of the Pinus species of trees.
- Red Pine – also known as a Norway pine. This tree grows very straight and has needles that grow in groups of two. The needles are brittle and break easily. It drops cones and is known for being self pruning. This means that you’ll find the bottom trunk branchless with all the needles falling from the upper limbs of the tree.
- Pitch Pine – a small to medium size tree, it has an irregular shape. Its needles grow in groups of three and can be slightly twisted. It is hardy in Zones 6-9. It tends to grow in sandy soil.
- Jack Pine – grows in Zones 4-6. Another tree common to sandy soil, it can be shrub sized and irregular shaped. Its needles grow in groups of two and can also be twisty. Unusually, it’s pointy cones can curl around the branch where they form.
- Longleaf Pine – has the longest leaves of the eastern pine species, and is the state tree of Alabama. It remains in a grass-like stage for 5-7 years following germination to allow for the root system to develop, after which it grows at an average rate of 13’’ – 24’’ a year until matured (typically when it reaches 60-80’). It takes nearly half of its 300+ year life to fully mature and needs partial to full sun to do so. Has flexible dark green needles that can be 18’’ long, usually in bundles of 3. Its cones are on the larger side. The Longleaf pine can be found from southeastern Virginia to Florida, west through Louisiana to east Texas (Zones 7-10).
- Shortleaf Pine – also known as the southern yellow pine or the shortstraw pine, is native to the area from southern New York state south to northern Florida, west to eastern Oklahoma, and southwest to eastern Texas. It varies in form when fully mature, but usually reaches 60-100’. The needles are typically shorter than 5’’ and are found in bundles of 2-3. The Shortleaf pine drops short, prickly cones during the summer and fall.
- Loblolly Pine – was once an important lumber tree because of its relative abundance. It is one of the fastest growing southern pines (over 24” a year), often reaching 60-100’ when fully mature. Grows in a variety of soils, but needs full sun. Typically found as far north as New Jersey and as far south as Texas and Florida (Zones 6-9). It produces yellow-green needles that are 6-10’’ long and sometimes twisted. Drops brown cones. Since the tree loses its bottom branches as it ages, it is a good shade tree.
- Slash Pine is also a faster growing southern pine (up to 24’’ a year), that stands 75-100’ tall when fully mature. It is often used abundantly in reforestation because of its size and fast growth. Requires moist, acidic soil and partial to full sunlight to grow. It has glossy dark green needles that are up to 12’’ long and are usually in bundles of 2-3. They are primarily found in the southeastern US (Zones 8-10). Its cones are small, elongated, and purple. Similar to the Loblolly, this tree loses bottom branches as it ages, making it a good shade tree.
- Virginia Pine – also known as the Jersey pine and scrub pine, was used medicinally by the Cherokee. It is not fire resistant, unlike many of the other pines on this list, and typically lives no more than 150 years. It is found in eastern US (mostly Zone 6), mostly commonly in Ohio. Usually inhabits sterile soil, which attributes to its scrub-like appearance and slow growth to 40’ when mature. It has short needles that range in color from yellow-green to gray-green. They shed every 3-4 years. It drops cones, sap, and pollen during the summer and fall as nearly all pine trees do.
- Ponderosa Pine – is the major species used for tree-ring dating. Grows to over 200’ according to the National Park Service and large ponderosas can live for 500+ years. Full sunlight is ideal for this wind-resistant and fire-resistant tree that is native to western US. It has medium length yellow-green needles in bundles of 3. The state tree of Montana produces a sweet aroma and was used extensively by Native Americans as food and medicine.
- Pinyon Pine – nearly never grows above 20’ and thrives in its native American Southwest, where it is the state tree of Nevada and New Mexico. It grows at a very slow rate and can live 600+ years. Grows best in well-drained soil that gets full sunlight in Zones 4-8. It has yellow-green needles no more than 2’’ long that shed every 8-9 years. The pinyon produces small brown pine nuts that can be eaten raw or toasted.
- Jeffrey Pine – is also known as the yellow pine or black pine. It is found primarily in California and reaches heights of 80-130’ when fully mature. It grows in high altitude areas. The Jeffrey pine has gray green needles that grow up to 9’’ long. It is similar to the Ponderosa pine, but its cones are different as its barbs point inwards. The scent of this tree is most often described as smelling like butterscotch.
- Lodgepole Pine – has dark green needles that occur in bunches of 2 and are often twisted in a spiral. It can grow in a variety of soil types and is known for being one of the first trees to invade areas after wildfires. Arguably, the Lodgepole pine has the widest range of environmental tolerance of conifers in North America. This tree grows up to 100’ tall. It proliferates most often in fully shaded areas throughout Western US (Zones 4-8). Pollen sheds from the tree in late June.
- as well as needles from other conifers such as cypress, cedar, douglas fir, fir, hemlock and spruce trees.
Fir Tree Leaf Guards – 10 Quick Tips to Know Before You Buy
Fir trees growing near or over your home are very common in places like the Pacific Northwest, the Sierras, the Rockies and other forested areas. You may not live in any of these places, but you may still deal with the same issue–who knew that Douglas Fir that looked so nice as part of your landscaping would grow so big and become a gutter clogger? If you live near these trees, you have few options other than to clean your gutters from the volumes of debris that’s shed, including fir needles, bark dust, pine cones and seeds. About every 6-8 weeks you’re stuck cleaning your gutters to avoid clogs that can lead to costly water damage. If you are considering fir tree leaf guards, do all products keep debris out and do a good job solving the problems you’re trying to address? Not often enough. Here are 10 tips to help you weed out the trouble makers.
Pine Needles Filling Your Gutters? Click Here!
Fir Tree Leaf Guards – 10 Tips
Fir needles often blanket your roof. Wind will push most of them down towards your gutter, so consider a system that can shed lots of material.
- Fir trees drop needles all year long, but the greatest cast off is in the fall. In drought conditions, they’ll drop in much greater numbers in the spring and summer, too, causing problems during summer thunder showers.
- Wet fir needles “glue” themselves to the surface they’re on, including the leaf guard. They will clog the holes of systems that use slits, louvers, perforations, anything where the needle is big enough to slip into.
- If you install reverse curve fir tree leaf guards, expect the fir needles to follow rainwater right into the gutter you’re trying to protect. When debris is wet, it’s malleable will follow water right around the curve. You’ll still have to clean your gutters regularly to ensure they stay free flowing. If you wanted a gutter that still lets solid material in, you already own it.
- If you install a fir tree leaf guard, choose a system that won’t sit flat on your gutter. Fir needles will build up on any flat surface and will become wet and dense, unable to blow away. Systems with this problem include most sponges and anything that looks flat to your eye.
- Some leaf guards sit into the trough of the gutter, below it’s front lip. This includes systems that have small round, perforated holes in them. It’s even harder for air to circulate and clean blockage off of these products, expect a lot of extra maintenance, since they can make it impossible for water to get through and into the gutter below.
- A “nook” is created on most flat fir tree leaf guards. In any instance where the roof shingles extend over the fir tree leaf guards (minimizing their water receiving area), debris will build up under the shingle along the back of the product. Once wet, it doesn’t budge. Like a sponge, it will trap and hold water. Over time, that same moisture will be pulled into your roof shingles, your fascia board–anything it touches. These systems are recipes for dry rot along your roof line as water can damage paint, rafters, your sub roof, and cause your roof felt to fail.
- Fir tree leaf guards can go under roof shingles, particularly if you’ve had your installation methodology reviewed and approved by shingle manufacturers like MasterShield has done. Don’t take the sales pitch from systems that sit flat over your gutter on this point, just see the letters we’ve gotten from the shingle manufacturers themselves to ensure you’re in good hands. No “nook” forms when you create a seamless transition from shingle edge to leaf guard.
- Corners near valleys are still going to become fir needle magnets whether there are fir tree leaf guards or not. These areas may occasionally need maintenance to remain debris free.
- If your climate is constantly wet, like the Pacific Northwest, your roof and plant material are more likely to attract algae and moss. A copper strip above your fir tree leaf guards can help kill spores that wash onto the leaf guards, potentially minimizing moss and algae on the system.
A system that is designed to pitch with the roof line and not lift roof shingles (thick leaf guards can cause shingle lift) like MasterShield are the better options for fir tree gutter guards. Nothing bigger than 50 microns can get through; fir needles just can’t cause a clog. Water hits the surgical grade stainless steel filter and reacts as if there was no cover at all. Best of all, MasterShield comes with the most comprehensive warranty in the business.
Pine Needles Filling Your Gutters? Click Here!
For more information about the best covers for pine needles, or if you’re experiencing issues with Gutter Guards for Oak Trees or Gutter Guards for Maple Trees complete our free gutter guard estimate form and speak with a experienced MasterShield dealer.