The arrival of spring might have you longing to get outside and garden — to grow something, anything. Even if you don’t know exactly what to grow, don’t let that stop you. “When you plant a seed,” says Lauri Kranz, co-author of A Garden Can Be Anywhere and founder of Edible Gardens L.A. Farm Deliveries in Los Angeles, “you are embarking on a journey that shifts your perspective and enriches both your life and the lives of those around you.” If that doesn’t convince you, try this: Flowers can be pretty.
While you don’t need much to get going — “start simple and expand later” is the motto of popular YouTube gardening guru Cali Kim — proper footwear is an investment you’re unlikely to regret. An old pair of tennis shoes, while convenient, can leave you with wet feet, muddy socks, and lots of other surprises. (Trust us when we say that the last thing you’ll feel like doing after a long day in the garden is picking burrs from between your toes.) And while clogs might sound appealing, if you’re not a fan of ankle burns or bug bites, you’ll be glad for the extra coverage you get from a gardening boot.
When looking for gardening boots, aim for something comfortable, waterproof, grippy, easy to clean, and easy to take on and off. To help you find the right pair for you, we asked an array of gardeners, from influencers to ecologists on rolling acres and city terraces, to suggest the best boots to get you through the spring — and many growing seasons to come.
Best overall gardening boot
“I’m a huge fan of Muck Boots,” says Becky Searle, an ecologist and botanist who documents her gardening adventures on Instagram at sow much more. She prefers the Muckster II, “as it’s light, flexible and very comfortable.” It has a mid-rise profile, excellent grip, breathable lining, and superior debris-shedding capability in the garden and beyond. “These are my go-to shoes whether I’m in my garden, walking my dog, or doing the school run,” Searle says.
Best tall gardening boot
Two of our experts swear by Wellies, the classic tall, waterproof Wellington boots you see British people wearing at rock festivals or anywhere muddy. “Pulling them on always puts a smile on my face,” says Southern California organic gardener and YouTube sensation CaliKim. She finds them comfortable enough for long days in the garden and perfect for lighter jobs like pulling weeds, light pruning, planting small plants, harvesting, and light digging. “These flexible rubber boots can withstand the elements and are 100 percent waterproof,” she says. And “no worries if they get muddy or dirty — a quick spray with a hose cleans them up in a snap.” Kranz, who says she lives in her gardening boots, has worn Hunter Original Tall Boots like these for as long as she can remember. Plus, they come in (approximately) a zillion interesting colors, so you never get bored.
Best gardening boot that can double as a street boot (for women)
Amber Grossman, North Carolina gardener and creator of BlackGirlsGardening, likes something easy to slip on that she can wear for hours, and her current favorites are Merry People boots. “They’re just so comfortable and easy to clean!” she says. Katie Parks, who grows her own food on one acre in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Northern California and is known in the gardening world as Freckles and Sprouts, also likes the brand. She says the Bobbi Rain Boots “hold up well to our heavy clay soil that clumps to your boots in wet weather, and they have a nice grip so I never slip.” She points out that ankle boots are easier to get off than knee-highs, plus, “they are cute enough to wear out as well,” she says. “I get compliments on them all the time!”
Best gardening boot that can double as a street boot (for men)
“When I look for boots, I want to make sure they are water-resistant … something that I can hose off easily,” says Timothy Hammond of Big City Gardener in Houston. “At the same time,” he says, he wants “something that is stylish” for those times when he might “end up in the city for a meeting right after spending time in a garden or at a farm.” A waterproof, low-profile boot like this will look at home anywhere the day takes you.
Best budget-friendly gardening boots
Boots should be “comfortable, durable, and affordable,” says the highly entertaining Haitain American gardener known simply as Goo, who documents his garden adventure in Fort Pierce, Florida, on Instagram under the name Gardening with Goo. He’s a fan of these durable, versatile, all-purpose boots that have all the attributes of the pricier ones, but for much less.
Best heavy-duty gardening boots
Okay, they’re not technically boots, and they’re not technically for gardening, but Cali Kim loves this heavy-duty (yet lightweight) shoe for more strenuous projects. “They are sturdy enough for digging deeper holes in heavy soil, and they provide sturdy foot protection and excellent traction,” he says. And they “have the comfort of a tennis shoe with a slim profile.” They also come in lots of colors.
Best lace-up gardening boots
Dimitri Gatanas, who, along with his wife, Sara, owns and operates East Harlem’s Urban Garden Center, wants people to see gardening as a “fun hobby rather than a tedious job.” Which might be why, although they have access to all the latest in garden gear, they “really aren’t picky” when it comes to footwear: Sara wears Birkenstocks, and Dimitri loves these Timberlands. If you’re not into typical rubber garden boots, they’re waterproof and durable and will do you just fine.
Best gardening slippers
If you’re like Marie Viljoen, a gardener, forager, and “citrus therapist” whose popular Instagram, @66squarefeet, highlights her growing adventures from her Brooklyn terrace, your footwear needs are a little different. “I don’t use boots because they’re a pain to take on and off and I live in an apartment,” she says. She likes a shoe that covers her toes and “slips on and off really easily, so I can leave them at the door without tracking dirt inside.” Rothy’s are both “superlight and they wash really easily and effectively.” They also come in lots of colors and patterns.
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