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How to choose the best work gloves for landscaping jobs

This article will go over the different things to consider when picking work gloves for landscaping-related jobs. I will cover:

  1. Specific tasks and how they affect hand protection requirements, with specific glove suggestions.
  2. Factors to consider when picking landscaping work gloves.
  3. Glove suggestions (and other remedies) for the cold months/winter.
  4. Tips on saving money when getting or using landscaper gloves.

Specific tasks and how they affect hand protection requirements

Here are a few general types of work and information on the type of protection that could help:

Operating a lawn mower or lawn trimmer, leaf blower, using a garbage picker, or other similar equipment: you mainly need a simple layer between your hands and the handles of the equipment to reduce rubbing of your skin. It is beneficial to have light gloves to minimize sweating - if your hands sweat and get wet, skin becomes more tender and easier to injure. You would benefit from good dexterity so you can easily use your fingers to operate the handles/buttons on your equipment. Finally, if you use gloves with a grippy coating, it will likely help you use less force to hold the equipment, saving you some energy. As such, I recommend light gloves with an abrasion resistant coating:

  • Nylon gloves with foam nitrile coated palms - inexpensive, great abrasion resistance, great grip, light and thin materials. Keep in mind that the palms will have amazing grip, but will also more easily collect and hold dirt.
  • Nylon gloves with polyurethane coated palms - inexpensive, good abrasion resistance, grip similar to bare skin (they aren’t “sticky”), light and thin materials, also polyurethane is a good heat conductor, so it helps keep hands cooler than other coating materials. They will be rather easy to clean.

Working with prickly branches or other wood that can puncture or cut skin: your main hazard here would be punctures, either on the palms or on the backs of hands. If you have palm coated gloves with knit backs, it is possible that small pieces of wood can get lodged in there and start scratching the backs of your hands. Your best bet is likely going to be leather gloves:

  • Leather palm gloves - inexpensive and durable, the thick leather is able to provide some padding against pointy protrusions on the branches, and will also help guard you from the sharp edges that can puncture your skin. These gloves have safety cuffs that will protect part of your forearms as well.
  • Goat leather driver style work gloves - moderately priced, very durable gloves, they are thinner than leather palm gloves and provide better dexterity. However, even if they protect from cuts and punctures, they do not offer as much padding (padding helps protect against fatigue of your hands).
  • Premium latex coated gloves - inexpensive and durable, with knit backs. They will give good palm puncture protection, some padding, good abrasion resistance and good dexterity.

Laying or handling concrete blocks or bricks: you mainly need abrasion resistance and padding in this case. The best gloves for this type of work would depend on what you need to do besides simply moving the concrete blocks or bricks around (if you also need to handle some sort of smaller tools).

  • Nitrile palm coated nylon gloves - thin and inexpensive, yet they provide great abrasion resistance. They provide little padding, but will keep your hands cooler than other glove styles that are suitable for the job. The strategy with using these would be to use each pair for just a few days, given that the gloves are cheap.
  • Premium latex coated gloves - these are thicker than the above option and provide better padding and are still very economical. They provide good abrasion resistance and good dexterity.
  • Heavy duty nitrile coated gloves - very strong in terms of abrasion resistance, but somewhat stiff if you require grabbing small objects. These will be the best choice if you only work with larger abrasive materials and tools - will most likely be the most economical solution, as they are strong and inexpensive.
  • Leather palm gloves - the basic leather gloves could work well for this. Leather breathes to give you some comfort, and provides padding that helps reduce fatigue and injuries when dealing with heavy objects.
  • Premium grain leather driver gloves - made of higher-end leather, they will be strong enough to last you while also providing breathability and good dexterity. The good quality ones are very expensive, however.

A variety of miscellaneous tasks involving handling tools, branches, dirt, mulch, loading/unloading tools/materials: if your job requires versatility and you don’t want to have special gloves for different types of work, then you’d need to make a compromise. There are some gloves that are “well-rounded”:

  • Premium latex palm coated gloves - these will provide some padding for fatigue reduction, good abrasion and puncture resistance on the palms, ventilation via the knit backs. They give good grip on a variety of surfaces, so handling tools will be easy. They are also rather inexpensive and will likely last you for a good time.
  • Goat leather driver style gloves - good abrasion and puncture resistance all-around your hands (palms and backs), breathable material (leather breathes well), good grip on most surfaces. However, these gloves have little to no padding and are more expensive per pair (you’d have to figure out if their combination of life and protection make sense to you - it might).
  • Smooth nitrile palm gloves - light and durable, these are the economical solution for those who want cheap gloves that are thin and light but have great abrasion resistance. Strong, thin, cheap, light and breathable is a good combination.
  • Mechanic gloves - there are a variety of mechanic gloves that do a great job when general protection is needed. Many of them have good breathability, abrasion resistance and dexterity. They also normally last many washes, so you might be able to use a pair for over a year (unless you deal with stone/bricks much). 4Works does not currently sell mechanic style gloves.

Factors to consider when selecting landscaping work gloves

Here is a non-exhaustive list with general advice and questions to ask:

  • Do you need to be able to do specific extra things periodically while wearing your gloves? For example, you may need to reach into your pockets sometimes, or use a particular tool that requires extra hand sensitivity/dexterity. You might need to get the gloves that allow the most demanding operation unless you are able to remove or change gloves periodically.
  • Does it get very hot in your environment? Temperatures in many areas get above 100 F, and then keeping hands ventilated/cool becomes among the most important factors - it might be better to pick lighter but cooler gloves that don’t last as long as opposed to getting extra protection.
  • How soon do your work gloves start to smell unpleasantly? Are you willing to save your gloves and wash them once they get smelly, or would you rather get thinner and cheaper gloves you can simply throw away after a week or a few weeks?
  • Do you care how the gloves look? Darker gloves hide dirt better and look more “aesthetically pleasing” when dirty, but you’d also not as easily see if they are getting too dirty for your liking or have sharp sticks embedded in them that might scratch your skin.
  • Extra glove thickness provides padding and reduces hand fatigue, which is especially helpful if you have to handle heavier objects that have ridges, creating pressure points on your hands when you hold them.

Glove suggestions for winter months, and remedies for restoring your hands

You could have naturally dry/sensitive skin, or be affected by many other factors that make your skin dehydrated and cracked, and leave your hands bleeding in the winter: wind, temperature, air humidity, drinking insufficient water, drinking caffeine (caffeine dehydrates your body), washing hands with harsh soaps.

Here I will try to go over some glove-related solutions for preserving your hands in winter and basic advice on other things you can do/use. I know that some people end up with hands looking like they went through a meat grinder a month into winter, I hope this helps you avoid that.

Starting with our own product - among insulated work gloves, we carry latex coated gloves with napped acrylic liner and also latex palm gloves with (not napped) acrylic shells - they have breathability and good padding, the premium texture latex palms on them also offer great abrasion and puncture protection.

Here are the recommendations for using winter landscaping gloves:

  • Try to keep your hands dry - if your hands sweat a lot and the moisture stays inside the gloves, their insulating ability will be greatly reduced and your hands will likely get colder than if you had thinner gloves that prevented sweating.
  • Consider using heating packs
  • Use wind-blocking gloves
  • Layer your gloves - you can get a pair or a few of warm liner gloves without any coating, and wear another glove over them to provide abrasion and puncture protection as well as block wind. This would be cheaper than getting lined winter gloves, especially if you deal with abrasive materials and the gloves wear out fast.

Here are recommendations on restoring your hands if they are dry and cracked from outdoor winter work:

  • Try special creams like the O-Keefe’s working hands cream (we don’t sell it, but you can find it online)
  • Try Bag Balm products (we don’t sell it, but you can find it online)
  • Put on special healing lotion before bed (like the 2 mentioned above)
  • Drink sufficient water and try to avoid too much caffeine (caffeine contributes to dehydrating your body)
  • Use soaps with lotion

Tips on saving money when getting or using landscaper gloves

The first recommendation I have is to consider how you use gloves. You will need to decide what is more convenient and/or more economical for you - to use 5 pairs of $1-gloves or to use 1 pair of $10-gloves. Do you sometimes misplace gloves? Are you ok with washing your gloves? If you care for your gloves and your work does not destroy them quickly, then you might be better off with getting a pair of mechanic gloves for $20-30 and using them for 1-2 years. If you don’t want to deal with maintenance, then maybe you are better off with getting a dozen of light coated gloves for $10-15.

If you want to start washing your gloves, you should probably air dry them. Drying some gloves in a machine would make them shrink. Leather can stiffen from heat from a drier.

Consider layering gloves if you want extra padding - that way you don’t have to throw away an expensive padded glove once its palm is worn out.