Gardening gloves are essential for those who garden frequently, whether as a hobby or in a professional capacity. A good pair of gloves not only protects your hands from the soil, but also from injury due to repeated use of tools or from the plants themselves. While choosing the perfect pair of gloves may seem fairly simple to the layman, there are actually quite a few things to consider when shopping for the perfect pair for you. If your gloves don’t fit well, you will spend less time in the garden or will find a once-fun hobby now a tedious task.
Gardening Glove Fit
One of the keys to finding proper gardening gloves is the way they fit. However, fitting gardening gloves is not the same as finding well-fitting fashion gloves. Unlike gloves you might wear in the winter or as part of an outfit, gardening gloves should not be too snug. Look for gloves that come in a wide variety of sizes so that you can find a really good fit. Your fingers should have some space between the top of your fingers and the end of the gloves. Conversely, you don’t want too much space, as this can make it incredibly difficult to grasp things like tools or the plants themselves.
The wrist closure should be positioned on your actual wrist and not sit too high or too low. Additionally, it isn’t recommended that you purchase “unisex” or “one size fits all” gloves, as choosing these can result in a fairly poor fit. This rule is especially true for women, as the gloves may run too large.
If you buy gloves online, it is recommended that you don’t just guess which gloves will fit but instead follow the company’s suggestions. Some companies will have a print-out that you can measure your hand against or will describe measurements you can compare to your own. These are great tools for finding your perfect fit when shopping for gardening gloves via the Internet.
Consider the Gardening Tasks You’ll Perform in the Gloves
Besides a good fit, one of the key deciding factors when choosing which garden gloves to purchase is what you’ll be doing in them. The activities you’ll be completing in your gloves will determine what material the gloves you buy should be made of.
Leather gloves are perfect for heavier work, especially when you’ll use tools that have the possibility to injure you. You should also use leather gloves when working with plants that might otherwise tear or poke your gloves with their thorns or when participating in heavier tasks, such as moving rocks. If you morally object to leather or you find leather gloves too expensive, there are many synthetic leather options. These will cost a bit less than real leather, but in many cases, the quality is not sacrificed.
Cotton gloves can be used year-round, but they are particularly great during warm summer months. They are also ideal for use with tools or plants that won’t tear at your hands if you mishandle them.
Traditional garden gloves are made by combining several different types of materials. These gloves are those that you will find at most gardening stores, and they often are made of a mixture of textiles. These gloves will work well for most tasks in the garden, especially those that are not too high risk and don’t involve a lot of handling of heavy or dangerous tools.
Rubber gloves are not generally used for most gardening tasks, but they are very handy for cleaning up waste or debris around plants. They can also help you get a good grip on some tools, giving you more dexterity when working in your garden. They are also helpful for tasks that include working with wet leaves and mixing or using pesticide and fungicide.
Waterproof gloves that are not made of rubber can be crafted out of a variety of materials. Often, they are made of a fabric similar to knit and then dipped in a chemical or coating to make them waterproof. They are typically incredibly flexible and also allow for an easier time with wet garden tasks. Because they are so dexterous, these gloves will wear out quickly and do not necessarily protect your hands from sharp tools, thorns and other sharp objects. Therefore, it is imperative waterproof gloves are replaced regularly and that you exercise caution when working with them.
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Gardening Glove Flexibility
The flexibility of your gloves is an essential part of finding the perfect pair of gloves. While softer glove materials will always be flexible, you may find that heavier gloves, such as leather or traditional gardening gloves, are not as easy to move your fingers in. Dexterity is incredibly important when it comes to garden gloves, so you’ll need to find some in which your fingers move freely. You should be able to make a fist in your gloves, even if it is made out of stiffer material. Do not expect that your gloves will soften over time, because if you can’t move your fingers well from the beginning, your gloves will be almost useless to you.
Most, if not all, gardening gloves will have padding around specific parts of your hand to provide extra protection. While this feature is incredibly useful, it is most important to ensure that padded gloves will work for the type of gardening you’re doing. You want to be able to still make a fist, regardless of the padding. The padding should also not be too slippery, as you do not want it to get in the way of using your tools. In most cases, you will also want reinforced fingertips on your gloves, as this layer can provide extra protection from the elements, as well as thorns and your tools.
Glove Wrist Closure
How a pair of gloves closes is an overlooked but important element when choosing gardening gloves. If you want gloves that last a long period of time, purchasing those that close with an elastic strap or hooks isn’t the best decision. Instead, you should buy gloves that use Velcro, as hooks come off and elastic stretches over time. Additionally, if you’re doing work that involves digging in the dirt or using a poisonous substance, you want to ensure the glove closes properly so that nothing gets on your hands. Again, a Velcro wrist closure makes for the best option in this case. Otherwise, if you’re using gloves for a one-off gardening project, the durability of hooks and elastic does not matter as much.
However your gloves close, if you live in an area where there are high instances of ticks, make sure your gloves close tightly at the wrist to prevent tick-borne illnesses.
When to Purchase Longer Gloves
When searching for gloves to buy, you may come across gardening gloves that go all the way to the elbow. These are not necessary for ordinary gardening jobs or projects, but they should be worn if you are going to be exposed to poison ivy, pruning trees or bushes, or handling roses. The extra length will give your skin just a little bit more protection.
Summer and Winter Gardening
The time of year you plan to start working in your garden should also be considered when you’re picking out the perfect set of gardening gloves. Summer gloves should be light and easy to move in—and ones that won’t douse your hands in sweat. Cotton gloves are perfect for warmer months, depending on the type of gardening you’ll be doing. If you’re gardening in the winter, you can purchase specialty gloves. Some go up toward your elbows, allowing for extra protection, and they may even be lined or insulated to help protect your hands from the cold. These longer gloves are ideal for those who live in such a cold climate that they may not want to garden without them.
Gardening Glove Price Point
If you’re serious about gardening, avoid buying the cheapest pair of gloves. While the savings may be tempting, gloves sold at lower price points may not be the most durable or stand up well to steady wear and tear. For some smaller gardening projects, cheaper gloves may do. If you are using your gloves often or have a larger project to do, you’ll need to invest in a proper pair. Over time, this initial investment can save you money because it means you won’t have to buy several different gloves. A good pair of gloves will also keep your hands as protected as possible.
Gardening gloves are an incredibly important element of almost all gardening tasks but the very simplest. Having the right pair of gloves can make or break your project, and your gardening gloves can influence how likely you are to get out into your garden and dig in. Gloves are also crucial to protect your hands from tools, thorns, insects, and any hazardous chemicals you may choose to use in order to keep your plants looking and feeling their best. Always choose your gloves with care, as your hands are the most important tool when it comes to maintaining your garden.
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Anna Scanlon is an American expat currently living in the United Kingdom. She has been a freelancer for the past 10 years and has written three novels: Unravelled, Children of the Most High, and The Remnants. Anna holds both an MA and PhD in History, specializing in the Holocaust. Her freelance work has appeared in USA Today, XO Jane, Manifest Station, and The Mighty. She runs the lifestyle blog Anna in Wonderland, where she has been featured with brands such as Debenhams and J2O.