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Inside girl versus mud.
April 30, 2014 7:44 AM   Subscribe

What do people wear on their feet to garden?

I'm doing a yard project now (albeit slowly) and my footwear is not up to the task. I made the mistake of wearing my gym shoes (sneakers with mesh panels) and they filled up with sand. I have sandals, but I do not want my feet getting that dirty, plus I need some protection from ants. Oh, and I have I mentioned that it's already a million degrees even in the morning? Hence my slow progress, I'm limiting my time outdoors to early morning and dusk. Right now I'm wearing some Skechers walking shoes which are less than ideal, though they are lightweight and not too hot. Rubber boots will kill me and probably not fit over my enormous calves anyway. What other footwear can I try?

I'd really like shoes I can leave on the back porch so I don't keep tracking mud into the house, so something that's somewhat resistant to heat, sun & humidity.

Also, what kind of pants? Jeans? Are there pants for this purpose that won't be too heavy and hot?
posted by Kitty Stardust to Home & Garden (24 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
You can get ankle-boot length rubber boots. I've seen them marketed as "welliebobs". Easy to slip on and off, protective and resilient. They probably would be quite hot though.
posted by mymbleth at 7:46 AM on April 30 [2 favorites]


I wear light-colored wide-legged cotton or linen pants. Either I get them at the thrift store or I use ones that I've worn in real life that have gotten too worn or stained or something.

When gym shoes need to be replaced, the old gym shoes become garden shoes. I just dump the dirt out.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 7:52 AM on April 30 [3 favorites]


I usually wear something like these on my feet. They're hardly fashionable, but they can be hosed out and left on the deck to dry. For more ventilation, you could try Crocs with some icky old socks that you could throw away after a gardening session.

As to clothing, I use old shorts and T-shirts that are too big or too stained or too torn to be worn for any other purpose.
posted by DrGail at 7:56 AM on April 30 [1 favorite]


I like old canvas sneakers (converse Allstars, slip-on Vans, etc.) for gardening.
posted by aecorwin at 7:57 AM on April 30 [1 favorite]


Yep, gardners' clogs or crocs. I put my kids' crocs right in the bathtub with them, it's very convenient. If you wear crocs and dirt gets in the holes onto your feet, you can either hose your feet off on the way inside, or keep a tupperware bin of water by the back door to step your bare feet into and out of before going inside, like they do at the beach for sand.

I also wear wide-legged lightweight linen pants, which I can usually find at Target. Tie waists are best; I like to get them a little large so I have more freedom of movement, so a tie-waist is easier than a belt.

(But yeah, once it gets hot, you either dawn-and-dusk garden or you gut it out for a long weekend of suffering in the heat. It's okay if yard projects take a long time.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:05 AM on April 30 [1 favorite]


I prefer garden clogs (in fact, I might buy a pair of these right now), but I don't mind hosing or wiping my feet off if they get dirty.

I tend to wear pajama-ish pants, and when I live in mosquito climates I spray the pants with bug spray, especially around the hem/ankles and my hips, which are apparently delicious to pant-biting bloodsuckers. My mother lives in an extremely mosquito-laden climate and she wears socks pulled up over the hem of her pants to keep them from flying up the legs.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:16 AM on April 30


Crocs. So easy to step in and out of, is the thing for me. And hose downable, not hot to wear. I've had the same pair for years and they don't seem to wear out at all.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 8:16 AM on April 30 [3 favorites]


Short wellie-style boots - and yes, they get hot.
posted by ersatzkat at 8:27 AM on April 30


I wear Crocs. (Red and black Mickey Mouse Crocs that I would never, ever wear anywhere else.)

I'm also a big fan of wide legged linen capri pants. These are generally ones that have ended their reign as clothing worn in public and are now threadbare and stained. They are cool and lovely for this purpose. If they get wet, then they dry almost instantly which is a huge bonus for yard work.

I also wear hats of ridiculous proportion.
posted by 26.2 at 8:30 AM on April 30


Crocs, shorts, & sunscreen.
posted by headnsouth at 8:34 AM on April 30 [2 favorites]


My standard work attire when I was working on a market farm was green 65% poly/35% cotton work pants (from Big Bill), a t-shirt and old sneakers. We would do the more strenuous work during the early morning and at dusk, and concentrate on less demanding tasks (or ones that could be done in the shade) during the hottest hours.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 8:38 AM on April 30


I am a farm girl - I wear twill khaki's (actually that I made myself, but clearly, this is not necessary) and Sloggers. For very dirty jobs (cleaning chicken poop in the rain) I wear my Bogs.
posted by Sophie1 at 8:46 AM on April 30


Croc knock-offs, as well. They stay at the door and can get hosed off if necessary.

At work, knee-high rubber boots, for when I'm standing in muck.
posted by bonehead at 8:51 AM on April 30


Retired running shoes.
posted by saladin at 8:56 AM on April 30


I have a pair of Crocs clogs and a pair of Crocs knee-high wellies - which pair I wear depends on what I'll be doing in the yard that day and the weather. Also how much bug protection I want - if there are lots of biting bugs out I will wear the boots. I used to have a pair of gardener's clogs but I didn't like them as much as I do the Crocs now.

As for pants, again depends on what I am doing. If I'm going to be pulling out ivy and dealing with lots of heavy branches I wear jeans and hiking boots. For lighter yard work I wear capri pants meant to be worn while hiking, as they breathe well. Capri length is also less of a bother when I am wearing the knee-high boots.

And wide-brimmed hats are a must for me.
posted by needled at 8:57 AM on April 30


L.L. Bean rubber mocs.
posted by ocherdraco at 9:06 AM on April 30


My mom (an avid gardener) wears Muck Boots.
posted by oceano at 9:21 AM on April 30


As others have said I have both crocs and gardening clogs and tend to go the crocs because they are more comfortable but if the holes bother you then gardening clogs are the way to go. In really hot weather as long as I'm not using tools that might hurt my feet I just wear flip flops. Also wear a hat, I am getting a small cancer cut off my scalp next week from years of being outdoors sunblock on your face does nothing for your hair part as I have just learned.
posted by wwax at 9:50 AM on April 30 [1 favorite]


I recycle Crocs (this style, since they look unCroc-like). I get a new pair for public wear every summer, and the old pair goes to slopping around in the garden for light work, and the older old pair goes for in-camp and in-tent wear while camping (they are also good wading shoes) and the oldest pair gets tossed.

For heavier work (shoveling and spreading mulch, digging, hauling branches) I wear old hiking shoes, but cross-trainers would work too.

For pants, again, it depends on the work I'm doing. For heavy duty and really dirty stuff I wear jeans and denim work shirts from Goodwill (long sleeves to protect from thorns and such). For lighter duty, I recycle T shirts and yoga pants just like I recycle Crocs: new ones are for casual/public wear, older ones are for the garden. I have the pants in two weights: heavier, warmer ones in nylon and spandex from Costco, and lightweight cotton and spandex from Victoria's Secret (only when they go on sale). I don't like floppy pants in the garden, they tend to get in my way and get snagged on things.

And baseball caps. Garden hats don't stay on and they obstruct the view too much.

If it's too hot to wear long pants, garden work can wait. I've learned to get the heavy lifting out of the way as early as I can (both in the year and the day) so that I can avoid working in the heat.
posted by caryatid at 10:01 AM on April 30


Cheap canvas shoes work great- they are extra bendy for when you stoop and perch and you can throw them in the washing machine or just hose them off when they get bad. Do remember to put them up on something if you leave them on your porch or they will disappear in the mouth of your neighbor's dog.

Shorts and knee socks would probably be the most comfortable to work in. Use an old piece of cardboard to kneel on. I live in La. and have to wear jeans to cut the grass so I counterbalance by not wearing a bra. Always wear a light weight sun hat to prevent heat stroke. And always use sunblock. It's called a farmer's tan for a reason. Don't let it happen to you.
posted by myselfasme at 10:10 AM on April 30


Bogs are my favorite choice for muddy work. There are some excellent low shoes. I've got big calves and I can get the full boots on. The neoprene upper is very flexible. However, it's also very warm.
posted by Foam Pants at 12:02 PM on April 30


On further thing that occurs: crocs are great for gardening, and we do use them, as mentioned above, but for heavier landscaping I prefer traditional workboots. Crocs don't work so well on a shovel blade and don't offer much foot protection. So I keep a pair of steel toes for heavier work too.
posted by bonehead at 1:48 PM on April 30


Old sneakers for most normal garden work. I also have work boots from Keen that I wear when doing heavier or muddier work (or if I'm using power tools).

Secret trick: wear dark colored socks if you're doing really muddy work, then you won't end up with lots of white socks with a brown tinge.
posted by sciencegeek at 2:06 PM on April 30


I was a professional gardener for many years, and my footwear of choice is sneakers. Sometimes I wear my Keen hikers if I want to keep my feet dry or feel like I want more protection or not to fill my shoes with dirt while digging holes. I like Dickies cargo pants, but pretty much wear anything that my tool holster fits on. When it's hot pants that can be rolled up just an inch or two will allow cool air to rise up inside the pant legs (like a chimney).
posted by oneirodynia at 10:12 PM on April 30


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