1. Gardening Gloves – In my opinion, a great pair of gardening gloves is one of the best investments you can make. They protect your hands from thorns, sharp rocks, molds/fungus and splinters. They let you really dig in and get dirty without getting hurt. The key is to have heavy-duty gloves that completely cover your palms and fingers and can withstand thorns and bigger jobs, but that breathe a little through a lighter fabric on the topside. My absolute favorite line of gloves are made by West County Gloves, which are made out of recycled water bottles. I love, love, love them! Super durable, protective, yet light weight and airy. The Classic Glove and Landscape Glove are the ones I use most, but they have other varieties (including a Rose Glove) for different types of gardening. Currently, I’ve worn out my last pair and have moved out to my second favorite on hand, Dickie’s Fortress Goatskin Gardening Gloves. The goatskin is tough but soft and supple, and the top is lightweight and breathable. They dry out quickly which is an added bonus.
2. Clean and Sharpen Tools – Save your arms, hands, back and leg muscles by learning to properly clean and sharpen your own tools and invest in sharpening services when needed. A clean, sharp tool over a rusty, dirty, dull tool makes a huge difference, especially when digging and using shovels to remove large pieces of earth. Here are a couple articles on caring for your own tools from The National Gardening Association and Better Homes and Gardens.
3. Sunscreen – SPF 30 or higher UVA and UVB protection. I am a fanatic about sunscreen and lecture my friends and family on daily use. But at least once a year, without fail, I always manage to miss the boat and get a reminder sunburn. No fun. If you do get too much sun I recommend Burt’s Bees After Sun Soother. Protect your skin from the sun to prevent cancer and stop early signs of aging. Here is a great article on the 21 Best Natural Sunscreens. All paraben, oxybenzone, PABA and retinyl palmitate free.
4. Gardening Hat – A great gardening hat keeps even more sun off your face and shoulders, keeps the sun out of your eyes and keeps you cooler if it is light and reflective. Slogger’s Garden Hats are offered in numerous style options and provide UPF50 sun protection. Not too shabby. Any hat will help, but one with additional sun protection is great to have. You can order these hats online and locally at most major retail chains. There are all brands and varieties for the choosing. I don’t recommend white because it will get dirty too easily. And black is too sun absorbent and your head will get hot quickly. Aim for a mid-range color that will camouflage dirt, but provide some sunlight reflection. It was so bright today even my cat needed a hat and sunglasses – she couldn’t keep her eyes open!
5. Lip Balm with Sunscreen – Your lips are some of the most delicate skin on your face. Protect them just as you would any other part of your body exposed to sun. I go through a few tubes of Burt’s Bees Res-Q Lip Balm SPF15 every summer. Burt’s Bees is a great little natural products company that got started in Maine and is now located in North Carolina. When my traveling takes me further South to get even stronger sun I use other lip balms, like Banana Boat Aloe Vera and Vitamin E, with higher SPF. I also use the higher SPF in the pitch of summer in KY.
6. Sunglasses – Pretty straight forward, a cheap pair that you don’t mind scratching and getting dirty. Really great on those super bright days to keep you from squinting in the light.
7. Waterproof Gardening Shoes/Boots – Keep your feet dry and safe from sharp objects with heavy duty, waterproof work boots or shoes. Slogger’s makes a great gardening clog and you can find them just about anywhere. I used to use gardening clogs, but realized after many days of muddy, wet feet that they are impractical for hand’s on gardeners. Clogs are made to keep by the back door to slip on to take a look around the yard and do some light watering, otherwise you need a real, solid shoe. My favorite shoes for down in the dirt gardening are Sperry Top Sider’s Cormorant Rubber Slip-On and the Pelican Tall Boot. The Cormorant’s in particular are amazingly comfortable and you can be on your feet comfortably in them all day. Consequently, they have also become my favorite winter travel shoe for comfort. The waterproofing was perfect for my walks around the wet Irish countryside. As a bonus, I’ve received endless compliments on the look and style.
8. Heavy Moisturizer and Relaxing Bath Salts – Working in the heat can be exhausting and nothing soothes tired muscles like a soak in a nice, comforting salt bath. The Solar Salt Mineral Bath from Farmaesthetics is divine. Working in the water, heat and sun can also dry you out easily and quickly. Invest in heavy moisturizers year round to help bring your skin back to life. Lavanila Laboratories has a wonderful line of all natural body butters. They have a sumptuous texture and delicious scents. I adore the Lavender Vanilla – it helps me feel relaxed and refreshed after a long day in the garden. They also offer wonderful lines of sunscreens and bath products.
9. Small Stool/Bench – A small gardener’s stool can give you a needed break from constantly bending over to do back breaking work. I also recommend sitting on the ground as often as possible to avoid lower back issues. There are many rolling bench varieties that will carry your tools for you as well if needed, but a short plastic or wooden stepping stool will do the trick.
10. Water – Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Fill your water bottle before you go outside and drink, drink, drink. You will feel better and the water will keep you going. My favorite re-usable (BPA Free) water bottle for the garden and the gym is from Klean Kanteen. I prefer mine with a Sport’s Cap for ease of drinking. Great colors and much better than plastic.
I hope this little list makes your gardening a little more enjoyable. Now get out there and dig in!