Gutter guards and screens were created to ease the maintenance required to keep gutters clear of debris, enabling rainwater from your roof to flow freely away from your home. Some gutter guard companies offer very expensive systems that promise to be maintenance-free with long warranties. Cheaper systems are offered at big-box home improvement stores. So what is the best option?
Here is my opinion on the different products available:
I absolutely do not like the expensive systems that advertise on television. They are often sold via a home demonstration and pressure sale, and cost in the thousands. It is a specialty product that is only offered by the company selling it. The problem is, if you ever have a problem, the only place you can get replacement parts is from the company you purchased it from, and at an exorbitant price. It is my opinion that they are absolutely not worth the cost.
On the other end, I have not seen any cheap system that stands up to time. Lightweight plastic and screen will simply not withstand the environment that your roof sees throughout the year.
Quality, metal gutter screens are the only option that I have seen that are, in my opinion, worth the money. Water falls through the screen, (most) material does not, and falls over. Easy to understand. Additionally, as long as they are installed correctly (screwed to the front of the gutter), they seem to last quite a while. Select a screen hole size that best deflects the type of material found in your yard, and you should be happy with the results.
This said, nothing is maintenance free. No matter what is promised, nothing is maintenance free. Luckily, there is a cheap tool that allows homeowners to safely hose out their gutters: telescoping wands that attach to a garden hose. They are available at your local home improvement store, and obviously super-easy to operate.