In this guide we’ll take a look at the best garden shoes for the UK market.
I’ve compared comfort, durability, build quality and cost
to give you my top recommendations.
What Are The Best Gardening Shoes?
More Detailed Gardening Shoes Reviews
The original muck books are the best shoes to wear for gardening because they are waterproof, lightweight, and easy to pop on and off.
One of the most annoying things about muddy gardening shoes is when you have to bend over to take them off. If you’re just popping the bins out you need shoes that slip on without fuss.
Luckily these muck boots have a pull tab on the heel, but I’ve found you don’t actually need it because they slip off easily when you push your toe against the heel.
But hold on, because a second almost as annoying problem are ‘waterproof’ gardening shoes that aren’t actually waterproof!
Take crocs for example which claim to be waterproof but actually have gaping holes in the side, I mean come on! Muck boots are fully enclosed and made from rubber – ain’t no moisture getting in these.
As you’d expect from good quality gardening shoes these have a textured rubber sole to prevent slipping and soft comfortable inners with an elasticated cuff to prevent blisters. You can wear these unisex shoes out shopping on wet summer days and not look silly.
Muck boots are my top buy and the garden shoes I use to let the chickens out, wash the car, hang washing, and run out with the bins.
These brightly coloured slip on gardening shoes are funky, waterproof clogs that brighten the rainiest British day.
Backdoorshoes are a British company specialising in the best gardening shoes. They’ve taken garden shoe design to whole new levels with prints so bright you need to pop your shades on.
The tulip pattern isn’t the only great thing about these slip-on shoes because they’re practical too.
Made from rubber they only weigh 200g and are entirely waterproof with a thick textured sole to prevent slips. The insoles are washable which is a nice touch because we all get sweaty feet in the summer months, let’s be honest!
One of the things I love about this pair, aside from the outrageous colour, is the wedge sole that keeps you safely above puddles and the mud line. No more muddy socks after you’ve put the hedgehog’s food out after dark.
These gardening shoes are a great British design and good quality to boot.
Dunlop is a name we all associate with quality and their gardening shoes don’t disappoint. They treat your feet with respect.
Dunlop’s gardening shoes are built to last. They have a strong rubber sole that’ll stand up to some spadework (please be careful!) and will give you plenty of traction in the mud with deep cut grip soles.
The gum rubber soles are an inch high which gives you plenty of long grass clearance to hang out the washing and avoid any puddles on the patio.
The uppers are made from rubber to keep you totally dry and safe from over-enthusiastic dog feet. We’ve all felt the pain of Rover landing on our toes at the mere mention of walkies.
Slip-on and easy to remove with one foot I love these Dunlop offerings because they’re classic design rubber garden shoes. They don’t make a fuss and they draw no attention to your feet. You could wear these out and not a sole would notice – do you see what I did there?
If you want the best shoes for tough gardening, I’d recommend these for their dependable brand name and durable build.
These Michigan neoprene garden shoes are tough as old boots and cheap as you like. If you’re after a long-wearing bargain snap these up as they often go out of stock.
Michigan says these garden shoes are suitable for fishermen and farmers which gives you an indication of their waterproof nature and mucky durability.
The extra thick cleated sole provides a firm grip in muddy and wet conditions, and the elasticated ankle cuffs mean they stay in place so they’re perfect for dog walkers and all-weather gardening jobs. You’ll feel a lot safer wearing these than old trainers or wellington boots.
Despite being really tough these gardening boots are lightweight, easy to wash, and simple to take off your feet without bending down.
Reviewers say the fit is large so if you’re in-between sizes, go low unless you plan to wear mega thick thermal socks.
And speaking of thermal – these gardening shoes are made from neoprene which is warmer than rubber.
Don’t think that just because these gardening shoes cost less than others, they aren’t good quality. There are sturdy, waterproof and will last for years.
Garden Shoes Buyer’s Guide
Gardening shoes are must in our temperamental British climate. We often start the day bright and sunny, but then have a rain shower just as its time to put the bins out. What you need are waterproof, non-slip gardening shoes that are easy to take on and off.
Here are some tips to help you find the right ones.
Backless garden shoes:
Many garden shoes are simple slip-on affairs that you can shove your foot in and take off with stopping.
They don’t have backs and are probably best described as waterproof flip-flops. The lack of heel support can make them loose and hilariously lead to flatulent noise – if you have kids around, they’ll be in awe of your abilities.
Backless garden shoes are best suited to people in a rush without any kind of foot problems.
Heel Cuff Garden Shoes:
If on the other hand you have delicate feet, flat arches, bunions or arthritis (I hate getting old!) then a gardening shoe that fits snugly on your heel is a better option.
Heel cuffs stop shoes from flapping around and allow you to rest your big toe. It’ll also keep you safer in wet and slippery environments, prevent blisters, and will make sure you don’t end up with aching feet.
Heel cuffs are better for those of us digging soil too.
Many people end up in A&E each year because they’ve fallen over in the garden and the culprit is usually inappropriate footwear! If you’re digging, get a thick sole that’ll protect the arch of your foot and heel cuffs that’ll stop the shoes slipping off.
Learn from my mistakes. I once pushed a fork down hard in flimsy gardening shoes and got a massive bruise on my foot arch. It hurt to walk anywhere for weeks.
I’ll be honest, the best gardening shoes are never going to be hugely comfortable. They don’t have moulded soles and springy arch supports as they’re formed from one-piece waterproof rubber – and that’s your lot!
However, if you’ll be walking the dog or gardening all day they need to be comfortable.
Look for gardening shoes with decent inners. Inners you can remove for washing are a good bet, and look out for a more ergodynamic shape too. If the gardening shoe has a slight rise in the foot arch it will support your foot.
Heel cuffs can make the difference between a digging the flower bed in peace or getting a massive cramp from clinging on with your big toe.
I like gardening shoes with a flexible upper as it allows heat and sweat to escape. They can get really hot on summer days but synthetic uppers can keep you cool.
But perhaps the make or break aspect of the best gardening shoe is how simple and comfy it is to take on and off.
No-one wants to spend an age putting shoes on when you just want to let the dog out for a pee at 11.30, and taking them off is so much easier if you can slip them off with no hands.
Muddy wet shoes are a pain. Leaving them to dry by the back door without touching is a gift from the gods.
Speaking of mud and wet, gardening shoes have to be waterproof.
Most offerings are made from rubber because that’s going to keep you totally dry, but neoprene is a good bet and it’s warmer than rubber too.
You should also make sure your gardening shoes don’t have any holes, even if it’s bigged up as a ‘breathability’ aspect.
That’s because in the winter you will get wet and muddy socks from rain-soaked grass. In the summer months, morning and evening dew can drench your feet. Waterproof garden shoes are essential because damp will seep through the tiniest hole in record time
Easy to clean
If you have rubber or neoprene garden shoes then cleaning them is a walk in the park. Wash ‘em down with the garden hose, or drop them in the sink. Job done.
But sometimes soles can become caked in mud, especially during the winter months.
This really compromises their grip, so it’s best to clean any mud off at regular intervals. Tough mud can be scrubbed off with washing up liquid and a sponge, a scrubbing brush, or an old toothbrush.
If you notice scuffs on your shoes and they bother you, pop some olive oil or Vaseline on a soft cloth and buff it in circles.
This usually removes any scuffing without damaging the material. Don’t use harsh abrasive chemicals on your gardening shoes as they can discolour the rubber and lead to cracking.
Removable inners are a great way to control odour in garden shoes but if your pair are plain rubber just treat the inside as the outside – washing up liquid and water will do the trick.
Next time you buy any shoes, keep those little bags of silicone that mop up smells and pop them in your garden shoes overnight. They work a treat.
Toughness and durability
Rubber is by nature a tough material but it’s no.1 enemy is sunlight.
Leaving rubber or neoprene garden shoes outside leads to breakdown. When the rubber begins to disintegrate your shoes will smell weird, crease and crack easily.
If you can keep them inside, you’ll extend their life considerably.
Buying a good quality pair of gardening shoes will help with their durability too. Cheap rubber loses moisture quickly and the build is never as good. Granny was right – buy cheap and you buy twice!
I hope that’s helped you find the best shoes for gardening. No one size fits all and the best gardening shoes are really just ones that keep you safe on slippery surfaces and protects your socks against the good old British damp.
Look for quality and you won’t be disappointed.