Home & Outdoors

We tried the popular gardening gloves with claws—but do they work?

Don't toss your trowels just yet.

Garden Genie gloves Credit: Garden Genie

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In the gardening world, the as-seen-on-TV Garden Genie gloves (available at Amazon for $4.95) are hot sellers because they feature plastic digging “claws” on the gloves’ fingertips. But are they actually the best gardening gloves on the market? When you’re not perfecting your Wolverine imitation, you can use Garden Genie gloves to replace trowels and hand rakes for digging, planting, and weeding, or spreading mulch, compost, and fertilizer. The gloves typically come with a clawed right hand and an unclawed left hand, although you can also get a mix-and-match set of one pair of clawed gloves, and one pair of unclawed gloves.

The Garden Genie gloves also have a thick latex rubber coating on the palms and back of the fingers to protect your hands from wet mud and dry dirt, thorns, and sun while letting you hold on to the tiniest seeds and most delicate root hairs—but only as long as you don’t use the gloves with claws attached. The claws make picking up and holding most objects slightly awkward, and sometimes extremely challenginge. The claws aren’t removable for times when you don’t want to dig, or when you want to dig with a trowel. There’s a reason why most garden tools are made of metal, and digging with a Garden Genie’s thick plastic claws is more difficult than the TV commercials make it out to be.

About these gloves

garden genie gloves
Credit: Garden Genie

The claws on the Garden Genie gloves may seem helpful, but they're not as practical when put to the test.

  • Liner: Synthetic fabric liners
  • Coating: Latex rubber coating on palms, fingers, and the back of the hand over the knuckles
  • Sizes: Regular (roughly glove size 7) and extra-small
  • Cleaning: Rinse in cold water and air dry
  • Features: Can get gloves as set of two with one claw pair, one no-claw pair, or single right-hand claw
  • Touch screen compatible: No
  • Thorn protection: Excellent
  • Water protection: Excellent
  • Dexterity: Poor (due to claws)

What we like

garden gloves testing
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

We tested a dozen gardening gloves during a rainy New England spring to see which performed best.

Garden Genie gloves effectively protect your hands from dirt, scratches, and thorns. These gloves’ wrist-length elastic cuffs keep dirt out, while “high density rubber” really does keep most thorns away from your skin—although an Amazon Q&A respondent says that cactus spines definitely do get through.

The claws are effective for surface weeding. The claws are a great replacement for a hoe or hand-rake for scratching the dirt around plantings to dislodge small weeds.

The latex rubber coating keeps your hands dry. Unlike cotton gloves, which get soaked and stay wet, the Garden Genie gloves’ coating covers enough of your hand that it keeps the water out whether you’re using a hose, watering can, or squirt gun.

What we don’t like

It’s hard to actually dig with the claws. Unless you’ve been developing your finger strength via rock climbing or marathon guitar sessions, you can’t get much leverage with the tips of your fingers. These gloves are useless on any soil that’s hard-packed or rocky. Even if you do have loose, fluffy, sandy soil, it’s hard to move more than a couple of tablespoons of soil at a time with these gloves. For serious digging, get a trowel.

These gloves get very hot in full sun. That protective latex coating isn’t breathable, and heats up quickly in full sun.

Unless you’ve been developing your finger strength via rock climbing or marathon guitar sessions, you can’t get much leverage with the tips of your fingers.

They aren’t safe if you have a latex allergy. These gloves are actually made with latex rubber, not nitrile like most coated gardening gloves. If you have a latex allergy, these gloves are not for you.

You can’t remove the claws. There’s a lot of garden work that doesn’t involve digging or scratching—like picking flowers, or holding clippers, or picking up seeds. Trying to maneuver with the Garden Genie claws on your hands feels a little like doing garden work with shot glasses taped on your fingers. Even if you’re not trying to pinch delicate stems precisely, the bulky claws make it impossible to feel what you’re doing, and awkward to hold the handles of loppers, rakes, trowels, and every other piece of garden equipment.

What users are saying

Digging in garden
Credit: Getty Images / RichLegg

There's no replacing standard gardening tools like trowels and hand rakes.

The nearly 400 reviews on Amazon give the Garden Genie gloves 3.8 out of 5 stars. Users praise the Garden Genie’s protection, comfort, and weeding ability, but complain that the regular size is too large and loose for some women.

Should you buy these gloves?

If you spend a lot of time moving mulch around with your hands or weeding, the Garden Genie gloves could be a good investment. For most other garden work, a conventional pair of nitrile gloves, like the Showa Atlas 370—our Best Overall pick—or Digz brand gloves are cheaper and more versatile for all garden tasks.

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