7 Straightforward Steps to Bury Gutter Downspouts in Your Yard

Goodbye unsightly pipes. Hello, beautiful lawn

Ben Kissam
Written by Ben Kissam
Updated June 8, 2022
orange gutter downspout
Photo: ma-k / E+ / Getty Images
Difficulty

Intermediate

Perfect for handy homeowners.

Time to complete

3 hours

The total time depends on how much digging you have to do.

Cost

$25–$50

DIY with what you have

What you'll need:

TOOLS

  • Pencil and notepad
  • Garden spade
  • Shovel
  • Wheelbarrel
  • Screwdriver

SUPPLIES

  • New downspout (optional, you can use an existing one)
  • Plastic downspout extension
  • Gutter downspout extension vent (optional)
  • Pop-up emitter (optional)

Burying your gutter downspouts is a fantastic way to reap their benefits while also keeping your yard looking pristine. Underground downspouts can help guide rainwater away from your home’s foundation—and channel it to the thirsty areas of your lawn. You can DIY this project to save some money and protect your home from drainage issues. Here’s a quick guide to burying downspouts around your home.

Is Burying Downspouts a Good Idea?

Yes, especially if your lawn tends to hold water in uneven places or you live in an area where it rains often.

When water doesn’t drain properly away from your home, it can damage your foundation. Prolonged water damage to your foundation can compromise the structural integrity of your home. It could also leave puddles in your yard that ruin your shoes or cause four-legged friends to track mud through the house.

The layout of your yard, the climate you live in, and the amount of rain you get each year can help you decide if you should bury your downspouts or consider a different solution, like installing French Drains. 

The cost of French drains, however, might motivate you to tackle this project on your own.

Advantages

  • Improves yard drainage

  • Directs rainwater away from your foundation

  • Protects your home from water damage or leaks

  • Reduces risk of water pooling in your yard

  • Boosts curb appeal

  • Prevents slick or icy spots during winter

How to Bury Gutter Downspouts

If you’ve decided to go the DIY route, here’s how to bury downspout extensions in seven simple steps.

  1. Map a Route for Your Downspout

    Each yard is different, so first you should decide where you want to channel rainwater. It might help to map out a diagram to figure out the best location for your downspouts to drain.

    Ideally, your underground downspout will drain out on a hill several feet away from your home or into the sidewalk or street. This removes the possibility of puddles of water staking a claim on your lawn and keeps water away from the foundation.

    In some cases, above-ground aluminum downspouts or PVC pipe might be a better solution for your yard. For example, if there are lots of rocks in your soil or there are lots of shrubs or bushes where you can hide the extension.

    The size and layout of your yard will determine the length of your buried downspouts. Eight feet is a good goal to aim for; that way, rainwater will move far away from your foundation.

  2. Dig a Trench

    An important note—before you start digging, be sure to call 811 or visit your state’s 811 website so that you don’t unintentionally hit a gas or utility line. 

    Once you have the all clear, it’s time to grab your tools to dig a trench for the downspout. A garden spade is best for cutting through dirt. You’ll also want to grab a wheelbarrow to shovel the dirt into if you have it.

    Be sure to:

    • Mark off any utility lines

    • Dig your trench on a gradual decline so water doesn’t back up

    • Dig a trench deep enough for your climate

    Downspouts should be buried at least a foot deep underground. If you live in a cold climate, keep in mind that the frost line falls between 36 and 48 inches underground. In that case, you should dig down to below that depth to previent the need to thaw your gutters and downspouts during a cold snap.

    The trench should be wide enough to leave 4 inches of space on either side of your pipe.

  3. Dismantle the Old Gutter Downspout Extension

    If your downspout has an aluminum extension, you’ll need a screwdriver to remove it before installing the plastic extension you’ll be burying.

    Carefully unscrew the old extension and slide the plastic one into place. As you lay down your pipe, make sure the other end winds up at least 8 feet from your home.

  4. Connect the New Extension

    You’ll need a flexible, durable plastic downspout extension. Connect this to the base of your gutter downspout using several layers of waterproof tape or screws.

    Be sure to get an extension that fits your gutter downspouts. Most are either 2 by 3 inches or 3 by 4 inches.

    Extensions come in white, black, and brown. Color might not matter since you’re burying the extensions underground.. But if the downspout will pop out anywhere, you may want it to be an eye-pleasing color 

    Pro tip: You may want to consider buying  a vent for your gutter downspout extension for easy and inexpensive gutter maintenance.

  5. Set Your Downspout

    Now that your trench is ready, it’s time to lay the downspout down. Make sure your downspout extension is placed at a gradual angle to prevent water from backing up.

    Scan one last time for any potential problems, like high spots that could prevent proper water flow. If all looks good, it’s time to bury it.

  6. Fill Your Trench

    Use your shovel to cover the downspout extension and trench with soil. After it’s covered, pat it down firmly.

    That’s it—you’re done! Now just wait for the next rainy day to see how your work fares.

  7. (Optional) Attach a Pop-up Emitter

    You might also consider installing a pop-up emitter on the end of your downspout extension. 

    Pop-up emitters are best for:

    • Disguising the end of your downspout extensions

    • Maintaining even water flow into flat yards

    • Preventing debris from getting in your drain pipe

How Much Does It Cost to Bury Gutter Downspouts?

Installing and burying flexible downspout extensions should cost you as little as $20, which is far less than the cost to replace gutters.

If you have tools on hand like a shovel, a wheelbarrow and a screwdriver, you might only need to buy the pipes and possibly a pop-up emitter, making the total price for this project less than $30

If you don’t want to go the DIY route, hiring a gutter installation professional starts at $200. The final cost depends on how long your pipe is and how much digging is required. Overall, burying your own downspout is an inexpensive DIY project, but you’ll pay for it (at least a little bit) with some sweat equity.