How to Choose the Best Gardening Trousers
The right gardening attire is key when it comes to keeping you cool, comfortable and dry.
Whether you’re gardening in the height of summer or the depths of winter, a pair of gardening trousers can help to improve your gardening experience. In a country that’s not exactly renowned for reliable sunshine, we need all the help we can get when it comes to protective outdoor gear…!
If you’re considering purchasing a pair of gardening trousers but you’re not sure what to look for, the following tips will help you to make an informed decision.
Benefits of Gardening Trousers
There’s a number of advantages to wearing special gardening trousers over shorts, jeans or tracksuit bottoms.
- Not ruining your other clothes. Perhaps the main benefit of having specific gardening attire. It can be tempting just to throw on t-shirts, jeans, or leggings before tackling the garden, but you may find that several of your clothes quickly get condemned to the scrap heap. In order to preserve your existing clothes, it can help to wear something more durable in the garden.
- Water resistance/waterproofing. Kneeling down to dig, plant, or tend to your produce can quickly result in soggy knees. A pair of gardening trousers will keep your legs dry whilst you work. They also won’t get weighed down if it rains or you accidentally catch yourself with the watering can.
- Scratch resistant. Depending on their thickness, gardening trousers can be scratch resistant. This reduces the chance of brambles or thorns damaging your clothing or scratching your legs.
- Comfortable. If you’re used to gardening in jeans, you’re in for a treat when it comes to gardening trousers. Ultra-flexible and very comfortable, gardening trousers are easy to work in and allow for a greater range of movement.
- Breathable. Another great thing about gardening trousers is that they’re usually very breathable. They’ll both protect your legs and prevent them from getting too hot.
- Storage pockets. Many gardening trousers come with ample pockets so you’ll have space to store various tools. While jeans or shorts tend to have just a couple of pockets, gardening trousers are usually designed with utility in mind.
- Knee protection. Gardening trousers can help protect your knees whilst you’re working – they often have reinforced knee areas, and can also have pockets where you can insert knee pads.
Level of Protection
Some gardening trousers will simply be a loose and comfortable option to wear in the garden. However, there are some styles, which are more specifically designed for gardening, that offer more durability and protection.
The thickness of the fabric will be the first thing to look out for. Trousers made from 100% cotton may be thick – like denim – or thin – like a sheet. It’s necessary to find out the weight of the cotton in order to understand how protective the trouser will be.
If they are a cotton/polyester blend, they will be more durable (although not as breathable because polyester is a synthetic fabric).
Reinforced components will increase protection and durability. Some gardening trousers will have reinforced knees, crotches, or cuffs, adding more protection in areas that tend to see a lot of wear.
It’s also not uncommon for the knees to have a pocket where a knee pad can be inserted. While some people opt for using a garden kneeler, using trouser inserts is undoubtedly more convenient – they’ll stay in the trousers as you get up and move around.
Water-resistant trousers will offer some protection against rain and moisture. However, if you’re kneeling on damp grass for some time, it’s likely to seep through. Waterproof trousers will keep your legs completely dry, but aren’t always as comfortable.
It’s important to note that if you plan on using your trousers whilst operating machinery, they should have extra safety features. Chainsaw trousers for example, should meet the BS EN381-5 safety standard so that they can fully protect your legs.
Comfort and Flexibility
If you spend a lot of time out in the garden, it’s essential that your trousers are comfortable for long periods (which is why fully waterproof trousers might not be a great option). They should allow for a full range of movement, stay up whilst bending down, and be breathable.
Ideally, gardening trousers should keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter. If there is a bit of extra room in the trousers, you should be able to wear thermals underneath when it’s cold.
An elasticated waist can help gardening trousers stay up, hopefully avoiding that uncomfortable feeling of cold air on an exposed back. Drawstrings and elastic can help with customising the fit.
Selecting the Right Material
Gardening trousers are usually made from polyester, or a polyester and cotton blend (polycotton).
Polyester is one of the most popular options and it’s also the cheapest. Polyester is relatively durable and lightweight. It’s naturally water repellent, and has good resistance to heat and chemical degradation. Plus, it’s very easy to wash and won’t shrink.
The disadvantages to polyester are that it’s not breathable and can be uncomfortable to wear next to the skin, especially in hot weather. When wet, it can feel a little clammy and it also retains odours.
Polycotton is made using a blend of polyester and cotton. This combines the best qualities of polyester, with the advantages of cotton.
Cotton is relatively strong, soft and breathable. This makes polycotton naturally more comfortable than polyester fabric. It tends to keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
Unlike polyester, when cotton gets wet, it absorbs water which will help keep you cool and prevent that clammy feeling. It’s also hypoallergenic and doesn’t irritate the skin.
You may notice that a lot of gardening trousers are made with multiple layers of material. This will add to the durability, but you may find it reduces the breathability of your trousers.
Number of Pockets
Pockets may or may not be of interest to you when gardening. For some people, it can be useful to have seeds, string, pencils etc. easily to hand, but for others it can feel inhibiting to move around with all these objects on board.
If you have a gardening basket or box that you carry around with you, you might not feel that pockets are a priority. Nevertheless, gardening trousers can often have up to ten pockets, with zip, popper and Velcro fastenings, making them very practical.
Gardening Trousers FAQs
Do I need specific gardening trousers?
Whilst not a necessity, gardening trousers can be useful for several reasons. They can stop you from ruining other clothes out in the garden, providing a go-to outfit with no thought required. Much like wearing overalls for painting, when wearing gardening trousers you are free from the fear of ruining your clothes, and can get stuck into the task uninhibited. If the trousers are durable and reinforced, they will offer protection from thorns, brambles and nettles. If they’re water resistant, you won’t find that they get uncomfortably damp, which should keep you warmer whilst working in the garden.
What should I wear whilst gardening?
If it’s raining, a pair of waterproof trousers will stop you from getting wet through. Keeping dry means keeping warm, which can allow you to stay outside for longer. Otherwise, water-resistant trousers will be sufficient – they’ll keep light moisture out, but will be more breathable than fully waterproof trousers. Wearing trousers as opposed to shorts can offer protection from brambles, thorns and nettles.
Even on hot days, you should opt for a long-sleeved shirt with sun protection. Alternatively, be sure to lather your arms in sun cream!
Shoes should be grippy and breathable. If you’re digging, you’ll need a thick sole that’ll protect the bottom of your foot from the spade. Whilst backless garden shoes aren’t the sturdiest on the market, they’re good for casual gardening. They can be left by the door and slipped on when needed.
Of course, if you are operating powerful equipment you should wear the right safety gear. Depending on what task you’re tackling, this could mean a helmet, eye protection, gloves and goggles. In this case, cheap rubber garden shoes are inappropriate, and you should opt for something more sturdy.
Why do gardening trousers have pockets in the knees?
Knee pockets make it possible to insert knee pads into the trousers and offer extra protection whilst working in the garden. Kneeling down can be painful on the knees, so extra cushioning is often welcome. Whilst some gardeners use a garden kneeler, which is a foam cushion, having knee pads directly in the trousers can be more convenient – you don’t have to keep moving the cushion around with you (and risk misplacing it).