Worst Gutter Blockage of the Year 2019

A cactus we found in a gutter

A cactus we found blocking a gutter on a roof in Melbourne

The “Gutters are Cactus”…

In our years of cleaning gutters we have seen a very wide range of bizarre clogs, including screws, bones, bottles, toys, and lots more. However, recently we found a truly baffling gutter clog the likes of which we had certainly never seen before.

Next time a gutter cleaning customer calls to tell us, “My gutters are cactus,” we’ll know they might mean it literally…

While cleaning gutters on a large warehouse in Tullamarine, Melbourne, we discovered the unlikely blockage. There was a major bird proofing issue to solve at this premises, as dozens of Starlings were nesting in wall cavities and also perching on the ledges. We were on the roof to clean the gutters and plan a bird proofing strategy when we found this odd plant: a funny cactus with bunny like ears and a kind of head shape on top.

Cactus blocking a gutter

Grayson’s staff inspecting the surprising gutter blockage

In some desert areas of the world it might seem normal to find cactus plants randomly growing on roofs and buildings ledges, but here in Melbourne to say it’s a rare occurrence is likely an understatement. Cacti generally thrive in low-water environments and locations that are challenging to irrigate, but this plant had obviously taken well to the section of the roof designed to capture rainfall.

In our 18 years of gutter cleaning we have never before seen a cactus in a gutter! We racked our brains trying to come up with a reasonable explanation as to how a cactus could find its way on top of a warehouse roof.

The cactus after being removed from the gutter

The cactus, roots and all, after being removed from the gutter – notice the moist soil

Like a lot of unusual things we find in gutters, we suspect that birds were the culprits of the cactus plant growth; cactuses can’t just fly up onto roofs, but the seeds could have easily been deposited through bird droppings. As far as bird-related contaminants go, this one might not be the most harmful, but it’s yet another example of why bird proofing is always a good idea!

Luckily, we always bring strong hand protecting gloves with us on every job, and were able to easily remove the cactus and clear the blockage. The thorns and spikes of the cactus were an unexpectedly good example of why they are a necessary tool for every gutter cleaner to have on hand!

This cactus plant wins the prize of “Worst Gutter Blockage of 2019”. You can see our previous post about the worst blockage of 2017 here.