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Digging in the Dirt

$5 to $15 CANVAS Cotton canvas gloves are the most common and some of the most affordable gardening glove solutions for all levels of activity. Versatile, lightweight and easy to wash, canvas gloves can be used for most everyday gardening activity. Protection level: Basic; canvas gloves offer protection from sun, some insects, and dirt, but will not provide sufficient protection from chemicals, biting or stinging insects or cuts and abrasions from sharp items.

$10 to $20
According to Dunaway, gardeners should always wear chemical resistant gloves when handling pesticides. “Chemical resistant gloves are recommended to be worn when mixing and applying pesticides. The degree of chemical resistance required depends primarily on the formulation of the product as well as the method of application.” For maximum protection, invest in “unlined, liquid-proof neoprene, butyl, or nitrile gloves.”

$10 to $40
Leather gloves are like the Swiss Army knife of gardening gloves – they are handy in many garden situations. Leather options, including rose pruning gloves, are versatile, available in a wide range of sizes, styles and prices, provide protection from many garden hazards and, when properly cared for, last a long time.
Protection level: Leather provides excellent protection when working with tools, such as shovels and shears, as well as protection from basic cuts and scratches, insect bites, and encounters with thorny roses or prickly vines.

Protection level: These materials provide good protection under most conditions, are durable, and are reasonably priced.

As winter turns to spring, gardens and flowerbeds beckon gardeners, weekend warriors and urban farmers alike. Many home gardeners overlook basic protection when digging in and experts such as LSU AgCenter Extension Associate Chris Dunaway recommend investing in simple gardening gloves as an easy solution.

“While gardening provides many healthful benefits, there are many hazards in the garden that may seem innocuous but can cause minor irritation all the way to serious health concerns,” he said. “It can be important to select the proper glove for your intended use; in fact it could save your life.”

Dunaway notes several potential hazards lurking among the lilacs:

“Mother Earth: Viruses, bacteria, fungi, protozoa and parasitic worms can all potentially live in the soil and be transmitted to humans. Cuts, scrapes, and punctures: While painful enough on their own, bacteria and other foreign material can be introduced into the wound leading to infections and other complications. Biting and stinging bugs: There are many ‘unfriendlies’  including: fire ants, mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, bees, wasps, and caterpillars. Chemical exposure:  There are numerous chemical products used in our gardens including insecticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. Poisonous plants: Many plants in our gardens contain compounds that can cause rashes, hives, swelling and itching of the skin.”

Gloves are also the best way to protect a recent manicure, prevent blisters, shield hands from damaging sunrays and eliminate the need to scrub hands with harsh soaps post-gardening. Let’s face it, gardeners take pride in their green thumbs, but don’t want their hands to literally reflect their penchant for digging in the dirt.

Your glove needs will vary and there’s a bewildering number of choices. Here are our picks for three common backyard uses.


Wash canvas gloves between uses to reduce chronic exposure to pesticides and other contaminants.

Wash your hands while still wearing chemical resistant gloves to make cleaning easier and to reduce exposure when removing them.

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