Gardening doesn’t do the hands any favours. Aside from thorns, sharp twigs and rough bark causing inevitable injury, the worst offender is soil, because it literally draws all moisture out of the skin, leaving the hands as dry and chapped as the Bonneville Salt Flats.
What you need is a decent pair of general gardening gloves for working in the rough, whether it’s replacing turf, planting or pottering or, in some instances, dealing with prickly issues like rose, bramble, thistle and holly clearance.
We’ve called in a bunch of different gloves designed for both gardening and general household use and put them through their paces while performing a number of different tasks, from digging and pruning to heavy lifting. Only the best made it to this list so, without further ado, we suggest you read on to find out which gloves are the best for your gardening needs.
And to make your gardening experience even easier, we also recommend checking out our guides to the Best Garden Shears (opens in new tab), Best Secateurs (opens in new tab) and Best Manual Garden Tools (opens in new tab).
The best gardening gloves you can buy in 2023
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Made from a pliable layer of textured nitrile rubber and a thin, breathable nylon/spandex liner, these 'second skin' gloves provide impeccable grip while protecting the hands from scratches and your skin from all that earth you’ll be handling. They are also equipped with elasticated cuffs for a snug fit.
The Niwakis are ideal for light summertime gardening that requires sensitivity and feedback, like pruning, potting and ground prep. They are not designed for thorny tasks like clearing brambles, nettles and roses because, while the rubber finger and palm sections are quite robust, the breathable nylon backing provides zero protection against anything sharp and pointy.
On the plus side, these gloves are also really useful for getting a good firm grip on heavy items you may need to carry, like plant pots, urns, washing machines, fridges, pianos, safes, anvils, uranium, etc.
If you’re after a pair of light, stretchy gardening gloves that fit like a sock and grip like a salamander’s feet, make this very keenly-priced pair your first port of call.
These vented gloves are ideal for spring and summer gardening since the air vents in each finger reduce perspiration thereby eliminating clammy hands in hot weather. The Stihl Dynamic Vent gloves comprise stretchy Spandex in Stihl’s ubiquitous orange, black faux leather fingers and a flexible cuff with Velcro fastener. They are available in four sizes – S, M, L, XL – and are supremely comfortable to wear for long periods of time in the rough.
Although these gloves aren’t thorn proof, they do provide excellent protection against sharp sticks and soil while providing good grip on machinery and heavy garden ornaments. But it’s those little cooling air vents that you’ll come to appreciate in the heat of the summer sun. Highly recommended.
Constructed out of stretchy ribbed PVC with reinforced leather palms and silicon fingertips for gripping stuff like heavy terracotta pots, power tools and cliff tops, these mountain bike-style gloves are tough enough for most gardening duties, including rose bush clearance, soil toiling and carrying heavy stuff with sharp edges.
They’re available in a wider range of sizes than others we’ve seen (Medium, Large, X-Large and XXX-Large) and they’re easy enough to get in and out of. At around £9.99, they’re cheap, too.
Available in two sizes (M/L and L/XL), these gloves fit very comfortably though they are quite narrow at the cuff so bear that in mind if you have chunky hands. The Dig The Glove is constructed out of breathable denim with padded palms, genuine leather trim and temperature regulating stretched mesh between the fingers.
Although the gloves' palms, finger and fingertips are covered in puncture-resistant suede-like material, most stiff rose thorns will penetrate if gripped too hard. However, for lighter duties like pruning and general tool work, they perform admirably well. If you’re looking for a light, breathable and stylish looking glove for summer gardening, put these on the shopping list.
Although they’re advertised as ‘safety gloves’ these manly rubberised and double insulated gloves are absolutely perfect for winter gardening. In fact they’re so warm you could wear them as normal gloves for snowball fights.
The first thing that strikes you as you put your hand inside is how impeccably well they fit – the sizing seems consistent with most other gloves – and how cosy they feel. Their ability to grip knows no bounds and, as a result, I use them for a plethora of both garden and general home tasks like relaying turf that the dogs have destroyed, carrying heavy York stones, lifting shiny home appliances, picking up broken glass, etc. The encapsulated air molecules in the HPT foam coating also provide an inherent cushioning effect that protects the hands even further.
The rubber coating on these thermal gloves is super thick but extremely pliable and that means you can dig right into that hideously thorny rose bush with complete confidence that you won’t feel even the smallest prick, if you’ll pardon the expression. The main rubber section is naturally fully waterproof.
Available in S, M, L and XL – and also in a range of other models – you really can’t go wrong with a pair of these. Especially as they’re so cheap, too.
If you’re looking for an ultra tough pair of gardening gloves that offer great protection when performing heavy-duty tasks like tree surgery, consider this robust leather and textile pair from Stihl.
Aside from being really comfortable gloves per se, the Function MS Protect are also designed for light chainsaw protection to the back of the hands. This particular model is classed 0 in a chainsaw clothing scale of 0 to 3. This means the back of the hands will be protected against a chain spinning at 16 metres per second. Of course, that’s a difficult statistic to get a handle on so if you’re a keen chainsaw enthusiast, consider a pair with a rating of 3.
Nevertheless, even some protection is better than no protection at all so in that respect, these gloves will at least keep your hands safe to some degree when operating a chainsaw – as long as the saw isn’t too powerful and is quickly pulled away if it makes any contact.
On the other hand (if you still have it), these are just great gardening gloves for a range of tough tasks like piling thorn-covered stalks into the green wheelie bin or on the compost heap. They’re also handy for carrying paving stones, picking up the glass remnants of an accident in the greenhouse, lifting heavy garden ornaments and a zillion other garden jobs.
Now read our guides to the Best Manual Garden Tools, as well as Best Secateurs and Best Garden Sprinklers