How To Avoid Getting Dry Hands in the Garden

Over the past couple of days I’ve been spreading a ton of shredded bark mulch over our flower beds.

It’s looking much nicer. But I’ve learned two things in the process.

hand in mulch
hand in mulch

One. I hate spending money on mulch just for looks. I really need to work on filling in our flower beds this year so they don’t require so much mulching.

Two. You really do need to wear gloves when spreading mulch, even if you don’t touch the bark with your hands. Let me explain why.

Wooden Handled Tools Will Dry Your Hands

Yesterday, after a couple of hours scooping mulch out of the back of the pickup truck with a pitchfork, and wheeling it to the designated flower beds, my fingertips were completely dried out and splitting open. I had to stop several times to coat them with coconut oil to relieve the discomfort.

I had wrongly assumed that I didn’t need to wear gloves since I wouldn’t be handling the mulch by hand. What I didn’t take into account was the fact that the pitchfork and the wheelbarrow both have old wooden handles.

pitchfork inside wheelbarrow
pitchfork inside wheelbarrow

Newer wooden handled tools wouldn’t be such a problem because they’re usually coated with a protective finish. But since the handles I was grasping are very much aged, they quickly absorbed all of the moisture from my hands and dried them out.

Dirt Will Also Dry Your Hands

Any gardener will tell you that digging in the dirt with your bare hands can also cause them to dry out very quickly. This mainly happens for two reasons.

When soil becomes very dry it wants to absorb moisture. If the garden hasn’t been watered in a while and you start digging in it without gloves on, the dirt will pull what moisture it can from your hands. This is especially true when using dry potting mix that comes in bags.

Also, gardeners who hate wearing gloves (that would be me) have to wash their hands more often. Soap can also have a drying effect on the skin, especially when used excessively.

pair of work gloves
a pair of work gloves

What Can You Do?

You can avoid getting dry hands in the garden by wearing gloves anytime you work with wooden handled tools and anytime you plan on getting your hands in the dirt.

There are special creams and ointments that you can buy to relieve the pain of dry, cracked garden hands. Personally, I’ve found that slathering my hands with coconut oil and rubbing it in well restores my hands completely.

So far I’ve only used the cheap gardening gloves you can find at hardware stores. I’d love to know if any of you have a favorite brand of gloves!

10 thoughts on “How To Avoid Getting Dry Hands in the Garden”

  1. I use blue surgical gloves that go up past the wrist. They were thick enough to reuse depending on the task up to five uses.

  2. You can use a type of welding gloves called tig gloves(tig stands for tungsten, inert gas, a type of welding process). They are usually split hide, have a roughly 2″ cuff, are soft to the touch, and fit well and give very good feel..the glove may harden a little with garden use, but just slap it over your husband’s head a few times and it’ll soften up (the glove, not his head[just kidding!]). Available at welding shops, and I’m sure online,etc.

  3. I have been using the little brown Jersey gloves from the Dollar Tree. I have been struggling with “sandpaper” hands already so I melted a dab of paraffin wax into a little vegetable oil blend, stirred well and put into a jar to cool. I rub that into my hands before I garden and it seems to put a protective barrier on them that helps keep them from getting quite so dry by the end of the day. I didn’t like the coconut oil in the blend, though, because it seemed to make my hands even more dry.

    • Same here. Coconut oil doesn’t help my hands at all. Still looking for the solution that works for me. Thanks for the tip on the paraffin wax!

  4. I had always been a fan of the cheap garden gloves until I tried a pair with textured rubberized fingers and palms, they are vented on top which helps with air flow and the covering on the fingers keeps the moisture from plants and dirt and pulling weeds from getting in. They are great and you can wash them but do not put them in the dryer, they turn into a ball.

  5. I use the blue rubberized fingered gloves for gardening. They are popular with cement/mason workers and I get them at the lumber store. I have arthritis in my hands and they help me to keep a grip on the wheelbarrow handles and when digging they really protect my finger tips. When dirty I can just toss them in the washer and hang to dry. It’s very important to not get wood fragments under your nails and to clean out any that gets into your shoes. A little sliver can cause a “Planters Wart” on the bottom of your foot and or infection under a finger nail.

  6. I plan to take apart my wheelbarrow and prime & paint the wooden handles this year. I will probably do the same to the tools I have with wooden handles.

    I like to use a cream I got that has coconut oil and shea butter in it. I use it before (when I remember) and after.


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