Gutters or Not?

We have a 1960 plantation style home with crown molding under the flashing (no gutters). My lot is 1.5 acres and has an elevation change of 25 feet from the street (high point) to the river (low point). We are installing a French drain system to carry water away from the house, but should we install gutters too? The roof line is very high, which will make it nearly impossible to clean the gutters on a regular basis. We don't want gutters that cause more problems than benefits.  Given the gutter maintenance challenges, what should we do?
Taylor S., Jacksonville, FL

Installing gutters is always a smart move.  A gutter system does a lot more for your house than just keep rain water off your head.  Gutters systems are an integral part of a home's water management plan.  They can keep foundations stable by preventing wash-out around the footing, solve many a wet basement or crawlspace problem and lessen the chance of slippery sidewalks to name just a few.

If maintenance is a concern, install louvered gutter guards like the Waterfall Gutter Guard System from Crane Products.  Louvered guards are better than gutter screens which eventually need cleaning.  I have used the Crane product on my house and my Dad's with good success.  And, so long as you can work safely on heights, installation is fairly simple do it yourself project.

By the way, since you are installing the French drain anyway, use solid PVC pipe and connect the downspouts to that system.  This way the water will run from your roof to the river without you ever seeing it!