How Do I Keep Leaves From Blowing Into My Garage?

There’s a beautiful Red Maple tree that sits about ten feet away from my house. No matter what time of year it is, I’m always sweeping out the leaves that blow into my garage.

It’s worse in the fall, obviously, but this is a year round problem.

The best ways I found to keep leaves from blowing into my garage involved replacing the seals on my garage door, adding a threshold seal at the base of the door and adding a fan to help equalize the air pressure.

One or more of these modifications can prevent leaves and debris from being blown into your garage and creating a mess you’ll have to clean up later.

As with most problems in life, this one has a few different solutions. 

Choosing the right solution can depend on cost, utility and permanence. Other options are applied when building your house, which can reduce or completely eliminate blowing debris.

I’ll go into each in a little more detail below.

Garage Doors and Threshold Seals

These two will get you the biggest bang for your buck. They’re both related so I’ll talk about them together.

Let’s start with the seals on your garage door and threshold. Worn out or missing seals is the most common reason why leaves and debris blow inside your garage.

When high winds or blowing rain beats at the door, the seal will not prevent leaves, debris and water from coming in your garage.  

Most professionals say that just replacing the rubber seal at the bottom of the door will usually be enough to help make your garage impervious to blowing debris.

But for some, like me, the problem happens in new homes where the garage door has been installed properly, but the seal is not enough to keep out the gunk.  So, in most cases, the door seal may be fine, but sometimes it can need a little help.

Adding a threshold seal, like these from Garadry, can make a huge difference. 

Just putting a rubber weatherstripping seal on the garage floor and properly fitting it to your door seal can help close the gap – literally.

Some people say the drawback of the floor seal is that you will have to drive over it every time you leave and return home.  However most garage threshold seals are sturdier and longer-lasting than you think.  

Garage Fans: Positive Pressure

The whole reason leaves get into your garage is the wind blows it in. 

Thank you Captain Obvious.

Stay with me here. The reason the wind blows it into your garage is because the air pressure inside your garage is less than it is outside.

You can see it whenever you open the door. The active air outside is immediately drawn into the garage, where the air is stagnant and still.

Positive pressure refers to making the air inside your garage more active to keep the wind out. Getting a garage fan at least 18” in diameter and leaving it running at the front of your garage will help.  

The process of circulating the air in the garage will keep the leaves from sneaking in when the door is closed and will minimize, if not eliminate altogether, the ‘blowback’ when you open the door.

Obviously this won’t work if there’s a hurricane outside.

If you live in an area that is prone to more gusty winds, then you may need a much larger fan to get the same effect. Personally, I recommend the Air King garage fans. I use one in my garage and it really makes a huge difference!

There’s one big drawback of this solution: the cost of electricity. 

There’s no two ways about it. This will increase your electricity bill. Eventually, you’ll get accustomed to timing the garage fans to when it’s really needed, and those costs will decrease.  

Pro tip: The placement of the fan is key here. Floor fans can be blocked by your car and/or anything stored in your garage. If you can mount the fan on the wall it’ll have a greater effect. It also helps keep the temperature under control as well.  

Install a Screen as a Leaf Guard

There’s another idea, but it’s a little more extreme.

If either of these ideas isn’t enough, then your next best bet is to install a garage door screen

Garage door screens are full height screen doors that you can mount on the outside of your garage.

Some will roll up out of the way when they’re not in use. Others are more permanent and will split down the middle so you can walk in and out freely. One enterprising inventor designed an 8” tall net that attaches to the door itself and drops into place as the door closes. 

Image: screenmobile.com

This keeps the screen out of the way and still gives full protection without moving or setting up the net

While most of the screens are fairly inexpensive, the motorized ones can be quite costly. Those that are not have to be rolled down manually, which can be a hassle on a daily basis.

However, if you like to work in your garage – with your garage door open – this can be a pretty great way to keep leaves out while you are working. 

Keeping Leaves Out of New Garages

New homes can be built to incorporate each of these solutions right from the start.  Contractors are offering them as standard when building a home or installing replacement garage doors.

Forward-thinking architects and contractors have designed garage floors and garage doors to help prevent this pesky problem.

If you have new home plans drawn up by an architect, ask about the possibility of creating a 1” higher threshold to the garage floor.  As they render the drawings and elevations, have them plan a 1” lip at the exact point just inside where the garage door will close.  

This makes the driveway 1” lower than the garage floor but will create a very sturdy barrier to wind-blown debris. 

Other Tips and Tricks

Any one of these solutions will help, and you can pick the one you like best. Each blocks leaves and grass from coming in under your garage door and will keep your garage floor much cleaner.

Sometimes you may have to augment these ideas with some additional help in order to get a complete solution.

As mentioned above, most garage doors could do with repairing the seals around the frame of the door.  

  • Install Teflon coated sealing tape for the vertical edges of the garage door frame, giving a smooth surface for the door to move over and plug those small cracks on the sides.  
  • Install Thicker foam rubber seals for the top edge of the door. It will only be engaged as the door presses against it at the end of the closing cycle.  This can help keep dust from blowing up through that crack.  

Garage doors will have a rubber edge along the top edge to seal and be flexible enough to give while the door opens and closes.

Some remodelers suggest putting foam rubber seals between the sections of a sectioned garage door to help reduce dust.

Finally, proper maintenance of any of these solutions is vital.  Don’t let any seal wear down too much. That will put you right back to where you were.