A sturdy pair of gardening shoes provide structure and keep your feet dry while landscaping or working in your garden.
"Look for shoes with a deep tread to help you get the best footing on wet, slippery surfaces," says Erinn Witz, co-founder of Seeds And Spades, an educational website focused on gardening. Witz says she might use waterproof boots for heavy-duty tasks that require more protection, but usually "a shoe with a water treatment coat on the lower portion is enough."
We spent nearly 70 hours testing 15 pairs of shoes, rating them for quality, comfort, durability, design, and value. Our testers wore each pair for at least 30 minutes (often much longer) doing moderate yard work tasks. They also did things like crouching, bending, and removing caked-on mud. For shoes that claimed to be waterproof or water-resistant, they spent at least an hour getting them soggy, whether that meant gardening in moist soil, stomping in muddy puddles, or soaking them with a hose.
The Bogs Women’s Patch Ankle Boot was our overall winner for its sturdy construction, thick-yet-flexible sole, and eye-catching design that's cute enough to wear outside the garden.
Based on our testing, here are the best gardening shoes.
Best Overall: BOGS Women's Patch Ankle Boot
Stylish enough to wear around town
Contoured, supportive insoles
Rubber smell may bother some
May be hot during summer months
Roomy cut on legs may take getting used to
The Bogs Patch Ankle Boots received perfect scores across all categories (quality, comfort, durability, design, and value), earning our title of best overall shoe. Our home tester loved that they were durable and had cushioned insoles to support her feet after many hours outdoors. She liked the ankle height, which made them easy to get on and off ("I found I didn't even need the handy cut-outs on the sides"), and appreciated the small tab on the back that made them easier to remove. These ankle boots aren't just well made and sturdy, they also look good, which our tester appreciated, saying, "The simple pattern adds a little fun and stylishness—I would use these as a commuter rain boot on a wet day."
The soles are both thick yet flexible, and able to accommodate lots of bending and maneuvering in the garden. Since half sizes aren't available, our tester went up a half size. The fit tends to be roomy, which she didn't mind (think socks helped), but she noticed that the generous fit around her ankles took some getting used to. Although the price was a bit high, she felt that they were worth it since she'd be willing to wear them around town. She also praised the company's numerous sustainability initiatives, such as the use of recycled materials and plans to decrease their carbon footprint, which would make her feel good about supporting them. A few downsides: The waterproof material may be too thick for sweltering summer temps, and the shoes do give off a strong rubbery odor right out of the box.
Best Budget: Amoji Unisex Garden Clog Yard Shoes
Easy to hose down
Good arch support
Strap can be rotated up or down
Could be more comfortable
Some signs of early wear
Not great for messy gardening
Our budget winner, the Amoji Unisex Garden Clogs "feel like a bargain" according to our tester, and were very comparable to similar name-brand shoes in quality and design, "but cost about half the price." She appreciated the good arch support and cushioned soles. They come with an adjustable strap that may cause them to feel too snug when worn on the back, though it can be easily rotated to the top.
After being worn for a long walk on concrete, the shoes did show some signs of wear on the logo as well as creasing on the top. Also, the air holes allow for breathability, but they don't keep dirt out during messy gardening tasks. Luckily they can be easily hosed down at the end of a gardening session. The molded footbed is textured, which helps keep bare feet from slipping and sliding too much when the shoe is wet (something that can be very annoying with these types of clogs).
Best All-Purpose: Crocs Unisex Adult Classic Clogs
Incredibly lightweight and comfortable
Easy to clean
Bulky look might not appeal to everyone
Expensive at full price
After spending several hours testing these shoes, our tester called herself a "Crocs convert." saying she appreciated their lightweight material ("You barely notice you're wearing shoes") and pleasant feel ("like walking on a cloud"), adding that they didn't rub or feel tight. Despite the airy vibe, the shoes held up well outdoors, and our tester said she didn't feel or notice tough materials like rocks or mulch underfoot.
Crocs are super-easy to hose off so they don't retain odors, and the perforated toe box means they're unlikely to make your feet sweaty on warm days. Since the brand doesn't offer half sizes, our tester sized up a half size and described the fit as "comfortably loose." One complaint was the value, noting that at press time, full-price Crocs clogs started at $50, and she'd be more likely to buy them if she could find them on sale.
Our tester did admit that the look of Crocs isn't for everyone, calling them "a bit of a clown shoe," but also said she was fully onboard with them, especially considering the dozens of colors, patterns, and charms available. "While their appearance is super basic and a bit bulky, they are lightweight and comfy. They also come in about a zillion colors and patterns, so the world is your oyster when it comes to finding a style that suits your personality," she said.
Best Men's: L. L. Bean Men’s Wellie Sport Shoes, Slip-On
Potential to get sweaty
High price tag
While wearing the L.L. Bean Men’s Wellie Support Shoes, our tester especially appreciated the solid construction and high-quality materials, as well as the good looks and basic tread that helps prevent slipping in wet conditions. "They look like nice grownup sneakers at a glance, and feel almost as comfortable," he said, although he noted that they have minimal arch support.
Note that although they're advertised as slip-on, getting them on and off isn't a no-brainer like a pair of clogs. "They don't buckle or lace, but you do need to slip your fingers down to help slide your foot into them," he said. He described the waterproofing as "gasket-like" and said that moisture stayed out completely during wet gardening tasks, but also pointed out that they have the potential to get "steamy" if you're doing lots of labor.
He felt the price tag was a bit high if you're only going to garden in them, but that he'd recommend them to "those who have cash to burn on kicks for the yard but are at least semi-serious about their active gardening." Overall, he recommended the shoes with a caveat: "They have style and performance going for them, and if you don't mind parting with the better part of a hundred dollars for something along these lines, these are a good choice."
Best Splurge: The Original Muck Boot Company Women's Muckster II Mid
Convertible high-to-low style
Accommodates wider feet
Not very stylish
If you tend to garden during cooler months or wet conditions, you won’t mind splurging on these versatile boots, which our tester called “sturdy and tough.” They're fairly heavy with deep tread that provides good traction in slippery muck, and when worn in the high position, give the wearer "the feeling that you can walk into nearly any gardening situation and be good to go."
Although the boots are advertised as being easy to clean, our tester did comment that "mud and dirt really like to get stuck up in the sole." These aren't necessarily shoes you'll be wearing to drinks with friends, as looks were called "an afterthought to performance." That said, they are extremely watertight, dependable, and, as our tester said, "a pretty decent gardening shoe."
Best Boot: Evercreatures Women's Rain Ankle Boot
Sleek design that's still comfortable
Fun pattern options
Thick tread offers stability
Cotton lining could be hard to clean
"The comfiest wellies I've ever worn," was how our home tester described these waterproof boots, which hit at a "comfortable height" just above the ankle and are less bulky and clunky than some competitors' offerings. They come in a mix of solids and playful patterns (think plaids and dots) and she said they'd work well with shorts or pants as they're "attractive enough for running to the store." They have a deep tread to help guard against slipping and also stand up to their waterproof claims, as our tester ran the hose over them several times. They also protected her feet as she used a rotary cultivator that churned up lots of mud.
The soft, 100 percent cotton lining was deemed comfortable, but our tester expressed concern that it might be tricky to clean if odors or stains popped up in the future. She also noted their lack of breathability, although she admitted she had yet to find a pair of all-rubber boots that was "super breathable." However, we feel like they are a great value since, as our tester noted, "The price seems fair for a well-performing waterproof wellie that's comfortable to work in for hours at a time."
Best Arch Support: Naturalizer Women's Marianne Loafer
Very comfortable and supportive
Hard to keep clean
Expensive if only intended for gardening
The good news about these design-conscious loafers, which come in playful prints like cheetah and snakeskin, is that they're "extremely comfortable and have good arch support," two things that Naturalizer shoes are known for. They're cute enough that the wearer can go from "gardening to running errands or eating out." One of the more breathable options on our list, they have a removable insert and also provide good traction during potentially slippery tasks.
Our tester mentioned that the white midsoles, which are standard across all patterns, were difficult to keep clean, even with mild dish soap. "I'll reserve these for less dirty work like watering potted plants or weeding a bed, but I wouldn't want to subject them to messy activities that would require frequent cleaning," she said. As for the price, she called it "quite high for what is essentially a slip-on sneaker."
Best Tall Boot: XTRATUF Salmon Sisters Octopus 15" Legacy Boot
Distinctive-looking fold-down lining
Boots emanated oily substance
Indents on soles trap mud
These boots, which were originally designed for fishing in Alaska, were deemed "well-built and very sturdy" by our tester. She said they supported her feet while doing a range of different gardening tasks, and didn't leak at all. The lining has a cute print, and wearing them folded down "makes them feel more versatile and less like a full galosh." They tend to run small, so the company recommends sizing up if you're between sizes.
She noted that the soles have excellent tread, although the deep holes that trapped dirt left "little zig-zaggy chunks of wet mud all over my floors," even after she pounded them on her deck and cleaned them with a brush. Another annoyance was that a few days after being unpacked, the boots gave off a "slick and oily substance" that made her unsure of the best way to store them long-term. She also found them a bit heavy and expensive for simple gardening jobs, but noted that "for anyone who lives in an area that frequently floods or has farm- or livestock-oriented duties, these are probably perfect and worth the investment."
Our top pick, the Bogs Women’s Patch Ankle Boot, has a sole that's a perfect mix of supportive yet flexible, and received perfect scores in every category for being stylish, comfortable, and waterproof. If you just need a simple pair of gardening shoes for light tasks and don't want to spend a ton of money, our budget choice, the Amoji Unisex Garden Clog AM1761 has a supportive footbed, cleans up easily, and is comparable to its pricier competitors.
How We Tested the Gardening Shoes
In order to see how highly-rated gardening shoes handle real-world weather, terrain, and gardening tasks (and if they are comfortable over time), we purchased 15 pairs and sent them to our volunteer testers. They spent over 68 hours wearing the shoes before reporting their results. In order to evaluate their quality, we asked the testers to wear them for at least 30 minutes while performing work in their yard and then assess the shoe's material and features (reinforced toe, traction, etc.). If shoes were listed as waterproof or water-resistant, we asked them to spend at least an hour getting them wet, which included soaking them with a hose, gardening in wet soil, or even jumping in puddles. We also asked them to evaluate their comfort after extended use (especially in warm to hot conditions), noting whether or not the shoes were breathable (had ventilation holes, made their feet feel sweaty, etc.) or if they had arch support, extra cushioning, or provided good traction on slippery surfaces. We also asked them to report if the shoes were irritating, or tight on their feet.
To assess their durability, we asked our testers to note any changes in appearance or smell after hours of use and to clean the shoes according to the manufacturer's instructions. We then asked them to note any design features that stand out and add functionality such as a pull-on tab (to help with putting shoes on), a stretchy inner layer (to eliminate the need for socks), or a fold-down top (to make boots more versatile). If they felt especially lightweight or heavy, we asked them to note that as well. We also asked them to note if they felt the shoes were stylish and versatile enough to wear while running errands. Lastly, we asked our testers to look at the price and assess the shoe's overall value, including whether or not they felt their performance was worth the cost, or if they would only buy them on sale (or not at all).
What to Look for in a Gardening Shoe
Gardening shoes tend to come in three different styles: Boots (which can be taller or shorter), clogs, and slip-ons. If you're working on tasks that require moving heavy objects, such as planting trees or working with tools like spades or shovels, you'll need more protection than if you're just stepping outside to water or plant a few bulbs. Boots can also protect your calves and ankles from insect bites. Note that clogs with holes may not resist mud and dirt, but this shouldn't be a problem if they're easy to clean with the hose, such as our best budget pick, the Amoji Unisex Garden Clog Yard Shoes, and the Crocs Unisex Adult Classic Clogs, our best all-purpose shoe. Whatever coverage you choose, try to pick something with good tread. "I like a shoe that provides good traction so wet, muddy, sloped, or irregular surfaces won't slow me down," says Zolene Quindoy, Head of Horticulture at online landscaping service Yardzen.
Rubber is the gold standard for keeping feet dry and happy. "Material that’s naturally water-repellent, like rubber, keeps moisture out, reducing the chances for blisters and discomfort," says Witz. If you aren't planning to wear socks, choose a material like molded resin or polyurethane, which may be more breathable than leather or traditional rubber. Ventilation holes can also help since they allow air to flow through the shoe, preventing moisture and odor from building up.
Planning on especially wet conditions but still want something breathable for warmer months? "My work usually includes watering plants, working with irrigation, or hosing down surfaces, and splashing is inevitable. Gore-Tex provides the best of both worlds—it keeps water out, while still letting my feet breathe," Quindoy says. If you're planning to garden into the chillier fall and winter months, waterproof rubber boots should still work well, but if they aren't lined, consider wearing warmer socks.
If your foot is especially narrow or wide, look for a shoe that comes in more than one width option. This will allow for a more customized, comfortable fit that you'll appreciate after being on your feet for hours. If multiple width options aren't available, you can size up or down a half size. If you prefer shoes with insoles for additional support, try to find ones that are removable so they can be taken out for airing and cleaning and eventually replaced. "I prefer nice cushioning under the heel and footbed, as well as around the ankle, and I sometimes add a removable insole for extra arch support if I feel I need it," says Quindoy. Our best overall pick, the Bogs Women's Patch Ankle Boot offers a flexible, supportive fit, and is also easy to slip on.
What is a gardening shoe?
A gardening shoe is a sturdy, waterproof shoe with a sole that gives you extra traction to prevent you from slipping on wet soil, grass, or pavers. Gardening shoes are easy to take on or off so you can do quick gardening tasks without spending your time lacing up boots. Some gardening shoes are meant to be worn in warm or hot weather, others are insulated so they not only keep your feet dry, but also help keep your feet warm in chilly weather. If you do a lot of shoveling, which involves pressing down on the shovel with your foot, the rubber sole of a gardening shoe does not offer the same protection against pressure as rugged work boots would.
Do you wear socks with gardening shoes?
It is always a good idea to wear socks with gardening boots because they protect you from blisters, moisture, insects, and small rocks and debris that get into the shoes during gardening. Socks also provide additional cushioning and stability—the shoes are less likely to slip off your feet when the inside of the shoes gets wet. Socks that wick away moisture are best. "Wool socks offer superior comfort, warmth, and breathability—cotton socks can’t hold a candle to wool," says Quindoy, who adds that she has a variety of wool pairs for both warmer and cooler months. If you do decide to garden without socks, make sure to apply sunscreen to any exposed areas on your feet—especially if you're wearing clogs with holes. "Crocs tan lines or worse yet, burns, are not fun," says Quindoy.
How do you clean gardening shoes?
If they are coated with mud, let them dry first, then knock or brush off the dirt before cleaning the shoes with water. "I start by knocking off any big chunks of mud by stomping my feet a couple times on the pavement," says Quindoy. Pull out the insole if it’s removable. Washing the shoes with just water might be sufficient; for pesky stains, add a few drops of dish soap. "If I really want to spiff them up, a warm soapy rag cleans them up as good as new," says Quindoy. Brush or wipe off the dirt and rinse with clean water, and don’t forget to clean the sole. Remove any dirt stuck in between the tread profile and pattern; an old toothbrush comes in handy here. Let the shoes air-dry completely inside and out before putting the insole back in the shoes.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was updated by Lexi Dwyer, a freelance writer and product reviewer for The Spruce since 2019, who compiled the current roundup based on exclusive results from our at-home testers. Each of the selected gardening shoes in this tested roundup stand out for their quality, comfort, durability, design, and value.
For extra insight, Lexi consulted Zolene Quindoy, Head of Horticulture at online landscaping service Yardzen, who has experience working in plant nurseries, greenhouses, and private gardens and wears her shoes 10 hours each day, 5 or 6 days each week. Lexi also spoke to Erinn Witz, co-founder of Seeds And Spades, an educational website focused on gardening. Given their garden-related expertise, both Quindoy and Witz gave useful suggestions on what to look for when choosing a pair of shoes and which styles and materials work best for different situations.
What Is Spruce Approved?
Here at The Spruce we want to ensure we fully stand behind every product we recommend, and that when we say something is the best, we mean it. You might have noticed The Spruce Approved badge next to the products on this list. Every product with this badge has been rigorously tested in person and carefully selected by our expert team of lab testers and editors. In most cases, we buy all these products ourselves, though occasionally we get samples provided to us directly by companies. No matter how we procure products, they all go through the same tests and must meet the same strict criteria to make the best-of cut. We also pride ourselves on transparency and will always let you know if we received a product for free.