Gutter Downspout Alternatives

Rain gutters protect your house and foundation from rain saturation by sending the bulk of the rain through downspouts that help direct the water away from the house foundation. The water may go to gardens, backyard ponds, ditches or rain barrels.

Downspouts can be unsightly.

The problem is that downspouts are not very attractive to many homeowners. There are a few alternatives to spruce things up a bit.

Japaneese Chains and Cups

Copper rain chains and rain cups were introduced in Japan hundreds of years ago. A cascading water show is created when rainwater runs through nine feet of natural-patina copper rings or flower-shaped funnels. At the end of the chain, the water would enter a channel system that delivers it to gardens, ponds, trees or wherever the water is needed.

Rain Dispersal System

This system has no downspout at all. It uses flat, perforated metal sheeting that protrudes from the eaves all around the house. The perforations break the water into many tiny drops; looking out through a window during heavy rains gives the illusion of standing behind a waterfall mist. One benefit to this type of system is that very little maintenance is required. One down side is that heavy snows and ice might bend the metal.


Vines planted next to the downspout will soon camouflage the downspout. The vines could also be led to camouflage the entire guttering system and would make a fine adornment to some home and landscaping styles. Faux vines are an option for those who prefer green all year round.


Metal guttering and downspouts can be painted to match the color of your home, making them less noticeable. Copper guttering systems develop a natural patina finish that may be preferred for some home styles. Combining copper guttering with a downspout of Japanese chains and cups is another option.


Before modern designs of metal and vinyl, the guttering systems on buildings were made of wood and logs. Planks of wood were fastened to form a V or U shape gutter and attached to the eaves with metal fasteners. Cedar was preferred due to its natural resistance to water. Wood downspouts were fashioned from cedar planks and formed into a square box-shaped tube.

Another old-time method involves slicing a log in half lengthwise and hollowing it out to be used as a gutter. A full round log was hollowed out to form a drain spout.