Even novice gardeners know that a good pair of gloves are an essential gardening tool. But, with all the different options, choosing a style can be overwhelming. Here is a guide to the different types of garden gloves … and what are they best used for:
Leather gardening gloves
They usually don’t fit snugly and can be downright bulky, but they’re durable, strong, and great for heavy duty jobs like pruning rose bushes, dealing with wire fences, or pushing a heavy wheelbarrow. Some extend to the arms for extra protection (ideal for dealing with prickly bushes).
Cotton gardening gloves
Cotton gloves are a budget option and are readily available at home improvement stores and garden centers. But cotton gloves have their limitations. Breathable and lightweight, it will keep your hands clean while digging in dirt and protect against blisters while pulling weeds. But they are not waterproof and do not provide much protection from chemicals, cuts and punctures.
Disposable gardening gloves
Technically, these are not gardening gloves, but they can be useful for handling manure and pesticides. Since they are disposable, you can throw them away when you are finished. Look for disposable gloves at your pharmacy, medical supply store, or grocery store.
Rubber gardening gloves
Work on wet or cold soil? Rubber gloves are great for sealing moisture and keeping the cold at bay, though they can be a little sweaty. Be sure to choose outdoor gloves instead of indoor cleaning gloves – those made especially for outdoor work are more durable.
Elastic gardening gloves (Spandex or Lycra)
These are often made of cotton on the back, with an elastic palm of different color. Tight-fitting, stretchy and often waterproof, these gloves are durable, forgiving and comfortable. Sometimes they even offer additional sun protection. Ideal when you need a flexible glove that also offers extra protection from cold or moisture.
A poorly fitting gardening glove can make pruning and other gardening tasks a miserable experience.
Look for gloves that come in a wide variety of sizes (some brands range from XXS to XXSL). The best fit is typically one that is tight but not tight. The fingertips should be close to the end of the fingers, but not stuck against the end of the glove-you also do not want a lot of space on the fingertips or it will be almost impossible to grab things with your fingers. Make sure that the tape between the fingers also fits comfortably without chafing. And the wrist clasp should sit on your wrist (I’m always surprised how many gloves are too short in the hand for me, resulting in a wrist that seems to be almost in the palm of my hand).
Many brands have gloves designed specifically for men and women. “Unisex” gloves are usually not a good idea, especially for women, as they are usually too loose and wide to be comfortable for those of us with smaller hands.
If you are buying online, please check if the company has an online size guide to help you choose the right size. Some will provide measurements (e.g. finger length, hand length and hand circumference), while others will provide a printed guide showing the outline of the various sizes. Place your hand on the guide to see which size is the closest, but be sure to follow the printing instructions closely to make sure you have printed the correct size!
These fit guides will also give you an indication of whether the glove will be a comfortable fit for The Shape of your hand and finger. Some are wider around the hand, some have longer but narrower fingers, and others have loose wrists. Please check the measurements carefully before purchasing.
Everyone has their own preference when it comes to how tight a glove should fit. For heavy work I prefer mine to be a little looser. But for “regular” gardening tasks, I like a tight-fitting glove. It stays in place, keeps dirt out, and gives you more control of the fine motor skills of your fingers.
Gloves have to flex well, particularly in the finger joints, if they are to be usable. This is not usually a problem with thinner gloves (such as cotton or knitted gloves), but it can be a major problem with thicker leather and work gloves.
Do not expect to “break” new gloves. If the fingers do not bend or you can not stretch your open hand, you will not use the gloves enough to loosen them!
Look for gardening gloves that allow you to move your fingers freely. Try to make a fist-can you close your hand tightly? Can you spread all your fingers? Can you grab things between your thumb and forefinger? If not, find another pair of gloves. It’s OK for gloves to feel stiff at first, but they should still be flexible enough to allow you to do all the gardening tasks you normally do.
Filling and protection
Gloves intended for tougher work often have padding strategically placed on the palms and fingers, as well as on the knuckles to protect them from being hit.
A little stuffing is a good thing-too much can make it difficult to close your hand or bend your fingers.
Gardening gloves come in a wide variety of materials, from cotton to leather, knit to nitrile. What is best for you need depends on what you will use the gloves for.
The most common leather found in gardening gloves is pigskin leather. It is sturdy but relatively flexible and comes with a reasonable price.
Goatskin is generally considered to be the most durable type of leather and has excellent puncture resistance. It is also very soft and flexible, making it a perfect material for gardening gloves. It is usually only found in high-end gloves.
Split cow hide is another sturdy choice for leather gardening gloves. It does not flex well, so you will often find it in the cuffs of work gloves or rose gloves, where it will protect your forearms from almost anything.
Synthetic leather is found in many gardening gloves these days, particularly on the palm, where it provides an extra layer of protection. Some gloves are made entirely of synthetic leather and can be machine washed.
Cotton is typically used for lightweight, lightweight gloves. It is breathable, flexible and generally inexpensive. It also comes in a wide range of prints. Just do not expect that the gloves will last a long time and they certainly will not protect your hands from Sharp Objects.
Some gardening gloves have a waterproof layer (nitrile), usually on the fingers and palms of the hands, although some companies make complete nitrile gloves. The intention is to keep your hands dry when working in wet conditions. However, if your hands tend to heat up or sweat easily, the lack of breathability in these types of gloves can be a problem.
To increase dexterity, some gardening gloves include Lycra, spandex, neoprene or other stretchy material. Look for this mainly on the back of the hand and fingers, but make sure that the palms and fingertips are reinforced with something stronger, such as leather.