Safeguard your hands when working outdoors by following these tips for choosing the right gloves for the job.

By Susan Appleget Hurst
Updated April 21, 2020
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It doesn’t take long for outdoor work to take a toll on your hands, but wearing gloves will reduce damage and help you enjoy planting, pruning, and harvesting more. Investing in more than one style of glove that fits well and holds up to the task at hand (no pun intended) means you’ll be comfortable longer and reduce the risk of injury or exposure to infection-causing pathogens. If you have allergies or sensitive skin, garden gloves can help protect your hands from plants like stinging nettle that can irritate skin.

Durability is important, but perhaps even more important is the fit of your garden gloves. If they're too big or loose, you won't have the dexterity you need, and gripping tools and plants properly could be tricky. They should have a snug or adjustable cuff to keep soil and debris from falling inside the glove. While gloves should fit snugly, if they're too tight they'll limit your movements and wear out more quickly.

Dean Schoeppner

Best Gloves for Planting, Weeding, and Harvesting

Some garden tasks require the ability to feel textures or be able to grip small seeds or delicate plants carefully. Gloves that are thin, snug, and flexible work best for these activities. Stretchable synthetic knit fabric gloves that are partially dipped in nitrile are perfect for general gardening tasks and can be washed and line-dried when necessary.

Test Garden Tip: Lightweight yet durable, nitrile-dipped gloves usually come in a variety of colors and are inexpensive so you can keep several pairs on hand for whenever you need them.

Lightweight goatskin leather or synthetic leather gloves are also a great choice and generally last well for more than one season. Lightweight cotton fabrics, although inexpensive, can quickly get soggy while going about your garden tasks and they don’t hold up well over time.

Dean Schoeppner

Best Gloves for Digging and Working with Stones or Pavers

If you’re planning to lay a patio or edge a bed with bricks or stones you’ll need garden gloves that offer extra protection for your fingertips. You’ll also need gloves that aren’t quickly worn by rough hardscape materials or gravel. Fit is important here, but you’ll have to give up a little bit of dexterity to gain important durability and protection. Look for gloves that offer extra protection for knuckles, fingertips, and palms and that have adjustable or snug elastic wrists. Leather or synthetic leather garden or work gloves will work well for these tasks.

Best Gloves for Pruning and Working with Thorny Plants

Even if you don’t grow roses, you may need a pair of rose gloves with a long gauntlet when pruning or weeding out thorny plants. These are gloves that include a long cuff to protect most of your forearm. Some rose gauntlets have reinforced palms or fingertips, but if the gauntlet is lightweight goatskin or fabric, you’ll probably come away with scratches. Make sure the glove material is tough enough to resist punctures.

Best Gloves for Pesticide Application

Applying chemicals to your garden and yard (even if they are considered fairly safe) means you’ll need protective gear. Gloves that are nonabsorbent are key to safe pesticide and herbicide application. Look for latex or neoprene coated gloves or nitrile dipped gloves that protect the back of your hand as well as the palm.

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