Selecting Gloves

Some people garden and perform lawn care their whole lives using no gloves at all. But apart from the calluses and the dirt, some of us mere mortals require a little help from technology. Fortunately, the technology of gloves has come a long way in the past 50 years.

Today, thanks to advances in materials science and ergonomics, there are gloves suitable for all tasks that are tough and comfortable. One thing hasn't changed much over that time, however. Hands are still the same basic shape and size.

So, the first criterion remains what it always was: select a pair that fits. Though obvious, this piece of common sense too often goes ignored. In the desire to get the lightest, or toughest, or least expensive pair of gloves, fit sometimes comes in second place. But if the gloves don't fit properly, they can't perform properly.

In order to fit well, they need to have no extra room at the fingertips, otherwise it will be more difficult to grip. A surprising percentage of the ability of humans to manipulate objects results from sensations transmitted via the dense bundle of nerves at the ends.

The second criterion comes in a close second, since the basic purpose of gloves is to protect the skin. They have to be tough. How tough depends on the purpose for which they're intended. For the hardiest work, there's no substitute for leather. Despite near-miraculous improvements in materials, old-fashioned leather remains one of the most cost-effective, and simply effective, choices available.

But there's more to protecting the skin than wrapping the hands in a thick, pierce-resistant hide that nature gave to animals other than humans. With modern pesticides and other lawn care chemicals, you'll need a pair of gloves that's impervious to transmission.

Often a set of neoprene gloves is ideal for this need. They keep out pesticides perfectly, provided the chemical doesn't gain access at the wrist. A small box of 50 nylon or latex gloves is handy for some specialized applications. They don't provide proper protection against most liquid pesticides, but they are useful otherwise. They also fit snugly, allowing maximum manipulation ability for those fine movement tasks.

Wrist protection, either in the form of cloth bands, straps or a snug fit, can be a great help. They keep out dirt, small sharp pieces and other debris. They're also good for keeping hands warm when working outside in cooler weather.

In warmer weather, gloves with a cloth backing are useful, since they allow some air movement and evaporation of sweat. When it's still warmer and the protection isn't needed on the fingers or fingertips, a pair of fingerless gloves can be very useful. They allow maximum control while protecting the palms and joints. That's particularly helpful when transplanting and you need to carefully manipulate the roots into position.

Select a pair for every purpose and your hands will remain unharmed and clean. The skin is the body's first and most important barrier against infection and soil bacteria can easily find their way into scrapes and cuts. Gloves keep hands safe.

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