Kind of shoes to wear in garden?

magan(5b)June 7, 2005

I am novice gardener and I am looking for some practical footwear while gardening.

I already destroyed my tennis shoes...muddy and wet inside out...

I already destoyed my sandals (as above tennis shoes)

I bought a pair of black rubber boots from Can.Tire 10$ on special and wore them today and liked them.

I also have seen clogs made of rubber of different colours in Can.Tire and I am wondering if they would be usefull.

Most of all, I am curious what other people are wearing and which shoes they consider most practical.

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if I'm not breaking new ground, I'm almost always barefoot- why get shoes dirty?

but I do keep a pair of sports sandals (Tevas, old ones I don't wear elsewhere because they predate the 'no stink' footbeds) for stomping on things like the occasional thorny spot, or spading up a new area- my feet aren't THAT tough ;)

Tenny's aren't bad- once they're wrecked, they're just wrecked, and you can hose them off and leave them outside to dry out.

clogs? honestly, they're really comfortable, and nice if you're not really working, just deadheading or stuff- but otherwise, a closed shoe just invited dirt to crawl inside ;)

    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 9:08AM
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Dieter2NC(z7b NC)

I wear Muck Boots shoes. Easy to slip on and off and can be hosed off.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 9:48AM
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lindac(Iowa Z 5/4)

I currently have a pair of very nice Rockport leather heavy soled clogs that are my garden shoes. They are comfortable, firm enough to step on a shovel....and they keep the mosquitoes from biting my toes....and they are really bad this summer!
For years I wore those wooden soled Dr Scholl's sandals and always left them outside the back door. Eventually they get ruined and I would just buy another pair....but now they don't make them any more!
I don't garden barefoot....because I can't kick off my muddy feet and run in to get a drink or turn on the oven or whatever....
Linda C

    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 11:05AM
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meldy_nva(z6b VA)

What a good question! I am somewhat impractical [buying a new pair every couple years] in that I wear rubber-bottomed thongs, the sort that is made for beaches, with an inch-thick foam sole and cloth straps. The ones with rubber or plastic straps are not (to me) as comfortable. Thin soles can't take the abuse of walking over coarse chips and usually are too smooth-bottomed to be safe on wet grass. I wear them from early spring through late fall; if muddy, they rinse off under the hose and dry quickly. For lawn-mowing, spreading mulch, yucky/mucky gardening, or during the winter I have a pair of inexpensive leather moccasin-style shoes with an excellently treaded sole... the first pair was worn as a casual go-to-the store shoe for three years, followed by about 8 years in the garden. The 2nd pair was worn for casual for about 5 years and has lasted more than ten in the garden... the insoles are getting worn, so I may replace them next year. The third pair will probably outlast me :) Over the years I've tried various clogs and rubber boots, but mostly they just weren't comfortable. Dieter, I do have Muck Boots' Chore Boot, which are okay in very cold, very wet conditions, and they seem well-made... but given a choice I sure don't want to wear *any* boot when it's 90* out!

    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 11:32AM
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Okabashi sandals.
They're molded from one piece of rubber, so there are no seams to break or give & no glue to dissolve.
And, as Meldy says, I can hose them off.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 11:43AM
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PMC_Nebraska(z5 NE)

I am a runner so I always have to get new running shoes about every six months. The shoes go through a step down program. Old running shoes become everyday grocery store shoes oldest pair of tennies go to the garage for gardening shoes. I have a hard time with walking on mulch in my barefeet.

And they are making the old wooden soled Dr scholl's sandals again. I bought a pair of them last year and I can't get them broken in comfortably to save myself.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 11:50AM
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I have found the rubber duckies (not sure of the proper name) to suit me perfectly. Waterproof, kick off easily, keep dirt, mulch, etc. etc. off my feet....and if they get dirty I can just hose them off.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 11:58AM
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sallym(z4 MN)

Muck shoes (slip on and off) and I bought a pair of rubber clogs at Smith and Hawken as well.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 12:00PM
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I just got a pair of crocs as surprise gift from the hubby and I love them. Lightweight and easy to rinse off, and fun colors too! But for the days when I'm doing serious digging, I think I'll resort to my muddy ole slip-on tennis shoes that I got at payless.
Something that slips on and off are a must for me. I have to be able to run into the house quickly to change diapers, answer the phone, ect.

Here is a link that might be useful: crocs

    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 12:42PM
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JenWestie(z5 WI)


I wear some cheap platic clogs I got from Big lots. Can hose them if they are really dirty!

    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 1:03PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I have found that without question, leather oxfords with oil tanned uppers and crepe soles without cleats or tread produce the best looking garden.


    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 1:56PM
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meldy_nva(z6b VA)

Al's comment re oil-tanned made me think of two pertinent items: 1) my cheapo mocs probably last so long because every few months, I clean them and then work petroleum jelly into the exterior leather, this provides flexibility and water-resistance similar to oiling but IMO more durable in wet grass; and 2) has anyone with tennies tried silicon caulking on the exterior? I use silicon plumber's caulk on the fingers of my leather gloves and on my jeans with good effect, so I wonder if it would also be effective on tennies?

    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 2:12PM
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creatrix(z7 VA)

I garden for others two days a week, and wear 'stepped down' sneakers. But that leaves me with white feet- so I try to wear Birks or flip flops when I'm doing light gardening in my year.

I knew to expect the white upper arms, wear a broad brimmed hat to avoid the 'red neck'- but I was surprised about the white feet when I started this!

Don't forget the sunscreen! And a baseball cap doesn't cut it for a hat! And put the sunscreen under your shirt for your shoulders and upper back.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 9:00PM
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dgkritch(Z8 OR)

I love the cheap garden clogs. Sometimes with socks to absorb sweat if it's really hot outside. They're slippery when soaked (fashion queen I'm NOT). Slip on, slip off is a must for me too. Why do ya always have "to go" when you're 100+' feet from the house and muddy???
I also wear cheap but solid tennies for any heavier digging, etc.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2005 at 4:16PM
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blueheron(z6 PA)

Clogs from Smith and Hawken. Love them!

    Bookmark   June 23, 2005 at 8:25PM
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I'm usually in my paddock boots - love'em! Their comfy and tie just below the ankle. A friend just bought me a housewarming gift (large basket of gardening delights) which included a pair of clogs. They are extremely comfy too

    Bookmark   June 23, 2005 at 9:20PM
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I just wear old sneaks. I don't dare go in my backyard in sandals because of the amount of black widows I have spotted out there. (Also makes me wear gloves all the time so I have tan lines on my wrists.)

    Bookmark   June 23, 2005 at 11:41PM
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I usually start with an old pair of tennies but inevitably go barefoot. Will run in house to get shoes if I find the need to dig...most part shoes make my feet feel like they're smothering...sandals do to unless I'm out and or spring! In the spring I just luv the moistness of the grass on bare feet.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2005 at 5:59AM
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funkydemon(6a/5b ON)

Ancient old grubby pair of Doc Martins--i garden grunge band-style. They were broken and grubby before, so a little extra mud and muck doesn't hurt them. And they have a good tough sole for stomping on things.

Though honestly, I'll be out there in whatever shoes I have on... slippers, sandals, heels, boots, even barefoot.

There's always that one thing that I have to check--oh, and while I'm here let me just do this one thing, hmm... that plant over here really needs something... let me just grab my garden tools for a sec, that'll just make this faster....

    Bookmark   June 24, 2005 at 10:31AM
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Guess it depends on how crazy a gardener you are and the time of day.

At 5:30 AM, I'm out planting & cutting with houseslippers and PJs on. At noon, while waiting for the dogs to do their business, I may have on suede bucks as I try to balance over the pond and cut back the oxygenators. At 6 PM, after I walk in the gate from work, it's a pair of oxfords and a suit as I stake up the slouchy delphinium. At 10 PM, while waiting again for the dogs, it may be bare feet & boxers while fiddling with the testy landscaping lights.

Never considered having a pair of dedicated shoes for the garden. Guess that'd keep the other shoes clean.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2005 at 11:47AM
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pitimpinai(z6 Chicago)

If the grass/ground is dry, old tennis shoes. It wet and not cold, a pair of rubber slipons. If cold and wet, my son's old duck boots. :-) I develop contact dermatitis easily, so I always wear socks to my ankles and long pants - thin cotton for summer, thicker cotton when a little cooler, and sweatpants in winter.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2005 at 2:36PM
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I just wear old athletic shoes but have been eyeing those rubberish clogs I see at the nursery. What's so good about them? Your feet would get dirty in them, wouldn't they? It would be handy to be able to slip them on/off when going in/out of the house. I've actually crawled in the house to get something to avoid tracking dirt in

    Bookmark   June 25, 2005 at 8:13PM
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Socks... read your last comment & giggled. I've stripped in the garage and streaked through the house to avoid tracking in dirt, and have nearly crawled just to get from the back door to a glass of cold water.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2005 at 8:58AM
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cheap canvas slip-ons
old sturdy sneakers
calf-high rubber boots

    Bookmark   June 26, 2005 at 3:28PM
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Not 100% impressed yet, but they are comfy at home. They kick off quite easily & can be rinsed out while wearing them. I like that I can shine them up with 'armor-all'.

At the nursery, I wear either waterproof boots or sneakers. Socks are essential in the 'all day garden'.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 12:02AM
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greenfingers_ni(Waikato, N.Z)

Tramping boots are a must for me!

We have a moderately steep section which is planted mostly in semi-mature N.Z native bush - need something sturdy and more supportive than gumboots when walking over the thick leaf litter!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 3:27AM
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meldy_nva(z6b VA)

socks12345 - yes, sometimes your feet will get dirty if wearing zoris or clogs -- just rinse with the hose along with the footwear. I keep soap (tied into an old nylon stocking) near the faucet, along with one leevalley's mini-scrub brushes for getting off mud or tomato vine stains.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 10:10AM
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i have a pair of garden clogs always at ready by back garage door...they have removable insoles so that you can clean...i slip off reg. shoes...and into plastic garden clogs that i purchased years ago.....i hose them off to clean, but found by wearing tennis socks in white...i can toss socks into wash with bleach and not worry about cleaning feet before i slip into house early wet spring and cold fall, i opt for wellies...high plastic boots that i wear with bare feet....comfy...and again..hose off and i am done!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 8:59PM
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littlekinder(z8 DFW Tx)

Only new thing to add... I use old athletic shoes with the laces removed. Then they slip on and off, can get dirty, be hosed and dry back out (we're in Texas, they dry fast!). Sometimes socks, sometimes not. But laces out is good for me.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2005 at 12:08AM
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urthshaper(z3 alberta, Can)

I'm with Chinacat. Got another vote for bare feet, here. Unless I'm turning over the garden in the spring, and then it's a 15 year old pair of cougar sandals. Dirt works its way into everything, and I can hose off my feet just as well as a pair of plastic footwear.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2005 at 2:31AM
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gardeningkelly(7 Tx)

I garden barefoot UNLESS I have just watered...and then I wear dollar store flip flops....every now and then I wear my birks but not very often....


    Bookmark   July 5, 2005 at 11:53PM
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I wear hand-me-down adidas sport sandals, the kind your kids wear after playing soccer. They are about an inch thick rubber with a wide strap across. They are easy to kick off and dry fast whenever I get them wet. I can also take them off and use them as knee pads when checking a plant. Flip flops rub sores on my feet whenever they get wet. So I use them to go into the house, to avoid tracking dirt from my dirty feet. I use a brush to clean my toes and my heels. I always wear a hat ever since my hair dresser got on to me about my dry ends. She said that the older you get the less oil in your hair and the sun can really dry it out. So my big big big stupid hat is by the door to remind me to take care of my hair and my face.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2005 at 10:27PM
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Stepped-down Sneaks w/socks.
Can't function unless feet are completely covered.
I own a broom, so a little tracked dirt isn't a big issue.
Shoes, for the most part, are not worn in my house, anyway. We take them off in the garage, or at the front door when in for the duration.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2005 at 10:34AM
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vstech(z7 Charlotte)

OK, I am guessing this is mostly a girl/woman thing, but as a man, I most often wear my work boots out there. it is my garden and I will wear what ever I want! I have never gone barefoot, but I don't think I would object to "skinny stalking" when I am just lounging around and feel like checking on the garden, I will usually wear my beach sandals. they are rubber, and they have straps that hold well onto my feet. and as usual as a man, I only have 3 pairs of shoes, so my choices are limited as what to wear in the garden.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2005 at 4:00PM
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I used to garden barefoot because I have a jungle garden. My 13 year old son picks on me because he says he can't see the ground (which is true). I stopped the barefeet practice though when I met a snake in my pole beans. He was small, but a snake nonetheless! I now wear long socks and heavy leather tennis shoes and am very careful about stepping on my plants and vines. I try not to work in the garden when it's wet to prevent diseases.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2005 at 6:01AM
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maineman(z5a ME)

Like Vstech (John), I also wear workboots in the garden. I also have an insulated pair of work boots that I use for cold weather work. Both pairs have steel toes and steel shanks. If you've ever stepped on a sharp rock in the arch of your foot, you'll appreciate the need for a steel shank.

Barefoot could be a bit uncomfortable, because our soil has some rocks in it. Also, some of our paths have wood chips, which might feel a bit uncomfortable to bare feet.


    Bookmark   July 16, 2005 at 10:47AM
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I'm always barefoot in the garden: I find it's much more comfortable, practical, and to me it treats the soil more gently and gives it more respect. I have always mowed the lawn barefoot, too.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2005 at 2:09PM
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Allways wwere rubber boots. my garden is ankle deep in mud. mudmudmud! ALWAYS WEAR BOOTS

    Bookmark   December 9, 2005 at 9:41PM
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mainman...I've grew up running for the mail over a gravel drive, so the idea of tenderfoots needing protection from woodchips has me rolling on the floor laughing :)

they keep telling me I'm an adult now- and it's true, I now wear shoes a good 60% of the time (went to college barefoot from april to october- yes, I was one of THOSE kids)

but steel toed boots are about the most ungodly things I've ever attempted to put on my feet.

heck- the prospect of HAVING to wear combat boots was enough to keep me out of ROTC!

    Bookmark   December 15, 2005 at 12:37PM
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the kind that go around your feet.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2006 at 6:08PM
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