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You can certainly wear an old pair of sneakers while you're working in the garden. But it's helpful to have a dedicated pair that can protect your feet from poison ivy, bug bites, and heavy objects (should you accidentally drop something). A sturdy set of shoes can also keep your toes dry and provide padding and support as you move around—after all, gardening is one of those activities that often requires more exercise than you realize. With your feet happy, you'll be free to focus on the flower beds.
Waterproof shoes that are easy to clean make the most sense. Depending on your preferences and the weather, you might choose ones made of thick rubber, foam resin, neoprene, or leather.
Read on for the best gardening shoes on the market today.
Best for Women: Hunter Garden Clogs
High back keeps moisture out without needing a boot
One-inch heel might not be for everyone
Color can fade in direct sunlight
When it comes to garden shoes, you can’t miss with a classic pair of Crocs. While certainly not the coolest shoes in the world (they launched a thousand memes for a reason), they’re still some of the most comfortable ones around. Their hole-filled design ensures they’re ultra-lightweight and breathable, but they’re also surprisingly durable. The brand’s trademark heel straps make them more secure than the typical clog-style shoe, and the 100 percent Croslite construction dries off quickly. Plus, they slip on and off with ease—great for when you're running in and out of the house.
Best for Men: Muck Boot Company Men's Low Mucksters
Thick, grippy sole
Range of color options
Pull-on tab allows for easy on/off
Foot opening is slightly narrow
Only comes in full sizes
Although the Muck Low Mucksters are lightweight, they're rated for wearing in temperatures down to 18 degrees Fahrenheit. They have a breathable mesh lining, neoprene insulation, and a design that will help your feet stay stable, even on slippery surfaces. They're sold in black, brown, and moss green and available in men's sizes 7 through 15. Muck also makes a similar style for women.
Best for Kids: Hunter Original Kids First Classic Rain Boot
Easy for little ones to put on
Lots of fun colors to choose from
If your kiddos like to help in the garden, you might want them in boots rather than shoes, since they offer a little more protection from the inevitable mud and water. These pint-sized Wellingtons come in eight colors and have a soft cotton lining that feels cozy. They're sold in whole sizes (little kid 5 through older kid 2) and will fit children between 18 months and 8 years old. Busy parents will love that even young toddlers will be able to slide these on without too much help.
Best for Summer: CROCS Classic Clog
Easy to clean
Roomy fit might be too big on some
These breezy, generously sized clogs are a perennially popular summer gardening shoe, and it's easy to see why. You can easily hose them off at the end of a sweaty day, and the ventilation holes keep your toes cool while still protecting them. The strap can be rotated to sit over your heel for extra support, or flipped up for a slip-on vibe. They weigh just a few ounces and are made of a molded foam that conforms to your foot shape for an extra-comfy fit. They're available in whole sizes 6 through 12 for women and 4 through 17 for men.
Best Slip-On: Birkenstock Super-Birki Cork Footbed Clog
Fun color options
Somewhat stiff construction
Surprisingly elegant, these polyurethane Birks could be worn to work in a pinch. Gardeners will love that they're designed to resist dirt, and they've got the brand's comfortable cork-latex footbed liner, which is lined with moisture-wicking fabric and can be removed for washing and eventually replaced. Because these shoes can be easily disinfected, they're also popular with medical workers and chefs.
Best Waterproof: Sloggers Women's Waterproof Rain and Garden Shoe
Made in the USA
Less supportive than other brands
These glossy waterproof shoes come with half-size insoles so you can get a more custom fit. The thick tread provides excellent traction on slippery surfaces, and you can easily clean them with the garden hose. The company also offers a recycling program: Send them your old shoes and they'll be ground up, with the material earmarked towards a new pair. (Sloggers guarantees that 50 percent of each pair is made with recycled material.)
Best Boots: Crocs Jaunt Shorty Boot
Low profile is easy to wear
Little arch support
These lightweight boots offer ankle coverage without being cumbersome as you bend and move in your backyard. They're made from Crocs' patented resin, but also have a rubber outsole that will help you avoid wiping out when the ground is wet (so they're also great for running errands on rainy days). As with the Crocs' popular clogs, you'll have space to add funky Jibbitz charms to customize your look.
Best with Arch Support: LL Bean Men's Rubber Moc Bean Boots
Laces for adjustable fit
A bit warm for summer
Handsewn in Maine by trained boot stitchers (really!), these shoe boots might look casual, but they have a steel shank that helps provide plenty of support. The upper is made from high-quality leather, and the bottom is molded rubber with a chain tread to help guard against slippery ground. They come in three widths (narrow, medium, and wide), and a women's version is also available.
The shoe you ultimately choose will depend on fit and personal preference, but the Hunter Garden Clog (view at Hunter) is an excellent overall choice, since it's well-made, protective, and fairly lightweight. If you prefer a flatter, more slipper-like option that can be worn in chilly weather, consider the Muck Boot Company Mucksters (view at Amazon). Looking for something more affordable? The easy-to-rinse Sloggers Rain & Garden Shoes (view at Amazon) have fun patterns and good traction.
What to Look for in a Gardening Shoe
If your foot is especially narrow or width, 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 aren't planning to wear socks, choose a material like molded resin or polyurethane, which may be more breathable than leather or traditional rubber. (Hunter, for example, recommends wearing socks with its rubber shoes and boots.) Ventilation holes can also help since they allow air to flow through the shoe, preventing moisture and odor from building up.
Ease of cleaning
Are you the type who prefers to simply hose down your shoes each day and let them dry? You may want to choose a molded shoe that doesn't have a separate insole. That said, removable insoles can be taken out for airing and cleaning, and eventually replaced.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Lexi Dwyer has written about patio tables and inflatable hot tubs for The Spruce. She's a huge fan of the molded shoes from Crocs and Birkenstocks, since they can be easily cleaned after a day on the grimy sidewalks of New York City.