For some people, one of the best parts of gardening is the wonderful feeling you get when you plunge your hands into some rich soil. As Katie Parks, a renowned Northern California gardener, known to her followers as Freckles and Sprouts, puts it, just dig into the soil and “your troubles will melt away!” (Research actually supports this, showing that exposure to a friendly bacteria in soil can elevate your serotonin levels and help treat depression.) But that’s not the case for everyone. Because of the risk of toxoplasmosis in soil, pregnant women should not garden without gloves. Neither should anyone who isn’t interested in the pain of slivers, the poke of thorns, and the sting of bug bites.
Like boots, picking the right gloves depends on the kind of gardening you’ll be doing, along with the combination of sensitivity and protection that works best for you. For example, if you’re pruning roses, you want something tough and cuffed; if you’re sowing seeds, you might want something fingerless, and if you’re a garden influencer, a proud plant parent, or someone who needs to pause and Google how far apart to plant radishes while gardening (it happens), you’ll want something with touchscreen sensitivity so you don’t have to take off your gloves to use your phone. To make it easier for you, we asked seven gardeners to tell us about the best gardening gloves for all types of tasks. Here are their picks.
Marie Viljoen, the Brooklyn terrace gardener, forager, and force behind the beloved 66 Square Feet Instagram, usually prefers not to wear gloves, but when she has to, she likes nitrile-coated gloves like these, because nitrile, a kind of rubber, makes for “the thinnest and most flexible gloves” you can get, she says. Plus, they’re made from breathable bamboo, which gardeners like Goo, of Gardening with Goo, enjoy because they keep your “hands cool in the summer and warm in the winter.” This pair is even touchscreen-friendly, so there’s no need to take them off to broadcast your gardening victories (or order lunch).
YouTube sensation and Southern California gardener CaliKim uses these ultrathin, tight gloves for lighter jobs (which she defines as “harvesting, pulling weeds, light pruning, planting small plants, and light digging“) because they help her “feel the plants” and “allow for high dexterity for the more delicate garden tasks.” Plus, you can order them in packs of 12, in case you’re “always setting them down in garden beds and losing them in between plants” like she is.
When U.K. ecologist and botanist Becky Searle, who documents her organic gardening adventures on Instagram @sow_much_more, has to do any potentially prickly or irritating tasks, she turns to these Gold Leaf Soft Touch Gloves — a British favorite that are now available in the States. “They’re buttery soft, so they are really easy to work in and they offer really solid protection.” The backs are made of nylon, lycra, and foam, while the palms are covered in soft deerskin, and the wrists have a Velcro closure. They start out snug and form to your hand as you use them, making them feel like custom-made gloves. Note: They’re the gloves used by the gardeners at Buckingham Palace.
CaliKim likes these double-coated work gloves for heavy gardening, which she defines as “digging up garden beds, digging holes for larger plants or trees, heavier pruning, and more strenuous outdoor projects,” because the double coating makes for “easy handling of full-size garden tools such as shovels, cultivators, pitchforks, or hoes.” The cotton blend makes them breathable in hot weather, and the price makes it easy to keep a few pairs around in the “garden tool bag, shed, and garage.”
If you like to feel the soil but still need some protection from rough tool handles, fingerless gloves give you the best of both worlds. Lauri Kranz, founder of Edible Gardens LA, an organic-food-delivery service in Los Angeles, says this pair from Hemp Garden makes “planting seeds much easier.”
Whenever she’s dealing with “something prickly,” Amber Grossman of Black Girls Gardening uses these goat grain, super-high-cuffed Rose Pruning Gloves by Exemplary Gardens, which are guaranteed thornproof or your money back.
“Duluth is my go-to for most of my gardening gear,” says Parks, who recommends these gauntlet gloves for any task that requires forearm protection. The gloves are goatskin and have padded palms to prevent blisters, and the gauntlet (the part that covers your wrist and forearm) is made of tough pigskin, which promises to keep you prick-free.
Dimitri and Sara Gatanas, who own and operate East Harlem’s Urban Garden Center, are big fans of these gloves, which have rubber-coated “smart threads” on three of the fingertips that make it possible to use your phone. They always keep a box of these rugged-but-breathable gloves around for those moments when “you need to garden on the run and can’t get those fingers dirty because you are headed to a meeting or out to eat.”
Parks also likes these Duluth gloves, especially for warm-weather gardening, because they “keep you cooler, protect your hands, and are hi-vis, so you can easily spot them in the garden if you set them down somewhere!”
Although Parks loves to feel the soil when she’s doing basic tasks, “if it’s cold, or I will be working with tools that could callus my hands, or reaching in places where some spiders might be hanging out, I always reach for my Duluth insulated gloves.” she says. These goatskin, Kevlar-lined gloves protect your hands from anything sharp, and the waterproof thermal membrane keeps them warm and dry when the temperature drops.
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