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Updated Oct 20, 2022 10:53 AM

Landscaping is a term that can cover a host of different tasks. It can be as basic as creating a new lawn, or it can involve moving large trees or rocks, using heavy machinery. The ground might be uneven, sloping, or slippery. The right kind of boots are essential for safety and comfort. Without them, there’s a real risk of falls—and the potential for serious damage to feet.

Quality landscaping boots offer support, protection, traction, and durability, but it isn’t just a question of picking a pair that looks the part. It is equally important to understand what is going on under the surface. This article talks about the key features you’ll want to consider before purchasing the best boots for landscaping, and offers a number of top quality picks for both amateur and professional landscapers.

Things to Consider Before Buying Boots for Landscaping

If you have a modest amount of landscaping work to carry out, it’s tempting to use any boots you have lying around. The result is often sore feet, and wrecked footwear. Landscaping is usually a lot tougher on boots than just pushing a lawnmower around the yard. The following are key features.

Grip and Support

Landscaping can involve all kinds of different terrain. A substantial tread offers traction on loose, muddy, or slippery surfaces. The pattern should have big enough gaps so it doesn’t clog easily.

If your feet do slip there’s a good chance you could go over on your ankle, which is painful and can prevent you from working. So support in this area is important. Personal choice plays a part. Some people prefer a hiking-boot style that offers some ankle protection but still allows lots of flexibility. Others prefer a higher, more rigid boot that also helps stop water and mud getting inside. This is another example of when a dedicated landscaping boot is the better choice. Some of the best rubber hunting boots are tall, waterproof, and good in mud, but they don’t offer the necessary support or strength.

Protection

Safety toes are a popular feature in boots for landscaping. These can be either composite (plastic, fiberglass, carbon fiber, or kevlar) or steel. The latter are usually cheaper, but can be 30 percent heavier. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA), both offer similar levels of protection, so unless there is a specific work-related requirement. The choice is personal.

Both American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) publish standards for safety toes, which involve compression and impact testing. Manufacturers can put their boots through this process but costs are involved so some choose not to. It is not a legal requirement.

Many of the best boots for landscaping don’t have safety toes, but still offer some protection against day-to-day knocks and bumps. Rubberized sections can extend across the toe area, and around the heel. These can also reduce the wear on leather or synthetic fabric in areas that are subject to high levels of abrasion.

Comfort and Durability

Leather is far and away the most popular material used for landscaping boots. It has proven toughness, and good scuff resistance. The trade-off is often an initial break-in period, during which the boots may be a little uncomfortable. However, this is not always the case.

A waterproof coating may be applied to the leather outer, or a synthetic liner like Gore-Tex might be used. This is both waterproof and breathable so your feet don’t sweat. A wicking liner may also be provided, drawing moisture away from the foot and helping prevent blisters. Boots that aren’t supplied as waterproof can almost always have a coating applied. Effective sprays, oils, and waxes are inexpensive, and widely available.

Insoles are another area to check. Many are quite basic, but they are frequently removable, and can be swapped out for gel insoles that are kinder to the feet.

Wearability

Wearability is difficult to define, because it is largely a matter of personal preference. For example, lace-up boots may be perfectly comfortable and protective, but you just prefer a slip-on style like many of the best fishing boots (although in this case you’ll want something stronger). On the other hand if your landscaping work focuses on lawns and formal borders you probably won’t want a tall, heavy work boot. A lightweight soft toe boot will be more appropriate.

While we’re on the subject, you might want to check out the useful article we put together on the best lawn mowers and other landscaping tools.

It’s worth taking some time to consider how appropriate each boot feature is to the type of landscaping work you are likely to do most of the time. If you’re a professional, and you work in different environments on a regular basis you may need two different pairs. For most contractors these are classed as essential items, and should be tax-deductible.

Best Overall: Timberland PRO Men’s 6″ Pit Boss Steel Toe

Best Overall

Why It Made The Cut: The Timberland Pro Pit Boss offers outstanding levels of grip, toe protection, comfort, and durabilit,y making it a great choice for all types of landscaping work.

Key Features

  • Materials: Full-grain leather with rubber sole
  • Size Range: 7 to 15 (including wides)
  • Safety Toe: Steel

Pros

  • High-traction, oil- and abrasion-resistant soles
  • Supportive comfort system
  • Meets ANSI and ASTM safety standards

Cons

  • Not fully waterproof
  • Need breaking in

Although no single boot is going to appeal to everyone, the Timberland Pro Pit Boss comes close. The brand has an outstanding reputation for high-quality footwear, particularly for work, and the Pit Boss combines tough materials, all-terrain grip, and all-day comfort.

The soles are a rubber compound, which has good natural grip. These are also treated to be oil, abrasion and heat resistant. The tough, 100-percent leather upper conceals a steel-toe cap that meets both ANSI and ASTM safety standards.

Comfort comes from a breathable polyurethane (PU) footbed, a cushioned midsole, and a shock diffusion plate that helps protect the more delicate instep area of the foot. The boot liner is Cambrelle fabric, which is antimicrobial to minimize odor build-up. Shaft height (from insole to boot opening) is 5.5 inches, which gives good support and protection to the ankle. The collar also has additional padding to prevent chaffing.

Although the leather outer of the Timberland Pro Pit Boss is water-resistant, these are not a fully waterproof boot. They will need periodic treatment to keep them in peak condition, and this could include waterproofing if required. They will also take a few days to break in. The size range is excellent, making the Timberland Pro Pit Boss a viable choice for men or women. While not cheap boots for landscaping, they are very competitively priced.

Best Value: Ever Boots Waterproof Work Boots for Men

Best Value

Why It Made The Cut: Ever Boots are a relatively new brand, but have built an impressive reputation for well-made work boots that use quality materials, provide good comfort, and remain affordable.

Key Features

  • Materials: Full-grain leather with rubber sole
  • Size Range: 6 to 14
  • Safety Toe: No

Pros

  • Waterproof, breathable membrane
  • Light and comfortable
  • Relatively modest cost

Cons

  • No safety toe
  • Treads can clog

There’s a reluctance among some people to buy work boots made in China, and it’s fair to say quality isn’t always great. However, since they started production in 2015, Ever Boots have built a reputation for quality materials and good durability. Although the boots look soft, and are supple enough not to need breaking in, full-grain leather is used. This simply has the hair removed before tanning, and therefore retains excellent toughness. A steel shank through the sole provides strength and impact resistance when digging. Although there isn’t a safety toe, the composite rubber sole provides decent bump protection.

Inside the boot is a waterproof, breathable liner that keeps feet dry and warm. It also  has wicking properties. This draws out sweat, and helps prevent blisters. A removable PU insole offers reasonable comfort but could be upgraded if necessary.

While the treads offer good traction they are shallower than some, and can clog with mud. Especially if the soil contains gravel or small stones. It is a minor drawback, and wouldn’t seriously detract from performance unless you were working in these conditions frequently. The size range accommodates smaller feet, making this a good landscaping boot for men or women.

Best Steel Toe: KEEN Utility Men’s Pittsburgh 6″ Steel Toe

Best Steel Toe

Why It Made The Cut: Keen are one of the world’s leading work boot brands, and the Pittsburgh provides popular modern styling combined with great comfort and outstanding all-round foot protection.

Key Features

  • Materials: Nubuck leather with rubber sole
  • Size Range: 7 to 15 (including wides)
  • Safety Toe: Steel

Pros

  • Great all-round foot protection
  • Waterproof and breathable
  • High comfort footbed

Cons

  • Premium price
  • Rare instances of sole faults

Keen is another of the leading work-boot brands, and their 6” Pittsburgh steel toe model is specifically targeted at construction and landscaping professionals. It has a stylish modern look, with the renowned durability of Nubuck leather for the upper. Keen sources this from tanneries certified by the Leather Working Group, a non-profit organization that monitors eco-friendly practices.

The stand-out feature of the Keen 6” Pittsburgh is the level of foot protection it provides. Not surprisingly, the steel safety toe meets ASTM and ANSI standards. There is additional protection around the heel area, and the 6-inch shaft provides good ankle support. The sole incorporates what Keen calls a “stability plate.” This is made of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), which adds strength—but unlike the rigidity and weight of steel, it still allows some flex. The sole itself is oil and slip resistant, with a deep, high-traction tread. It is also non-marking, so it shouldn’t leave black streaks on newly-laid slabs, for example.

The Keen 6” Pittsburgh boot is waterproof, with a natural, moisture-wicking liner that resists the build up of odors. A dual-density EVA foam footbed provides comfortable cushioning, and is removable for airing. There is little to criticize with the Keen 6” Pittsburgh boot, though it does come with a premium price tag. There have been occasional reports of soles becoming detached or splitting, but these appear to be isolated incidents rather than a general problem. This is another boot with sizing to fit most people.

Best Slip On: Cat Footwear Men’s Revolver Construction Boot

Best Slip On

Why It Made The Cut: Caterpillar’s Revolver construction boot is a classic that has been popular for generations because it offers great durability, sure-footedness, and good protection from water and mud.

Key Features

  • Materials: Full-grain leather with rubber sole
  • Size Range: 7 to 14 (including wides)
  • Safety Toe: Steel

Pros

  • Extended leg protection
  • Good footbed comfort
  • Mesh lining prevents soreness

Cons

  • Need breaking in
  • A little heavy

Although ankle-height work boots are popular for landscaping, even waterproof versions offer limited protection when it is very wet and muddy. If liquid gets over the top, it soon seeps inside, making feet cold and uncomfortable. Rubber boots are an alternative, but aren’t usually as tough. The solution for many is a taller boot like Caterpillar’s Revolver.

The full-grain leather offers the required toughness, and the extra shaft height means that while not technically a waterproof boot, it is water resistant and will rarely have a problem with mud getting over the top. It has a synthetic nylon liner made from a moisture-wicking fabric called Taibrelle, combined with PU padding for comfort. The PVC midsole provides strength and support. The deeply treaded rubber outsole is slip resistant, and very hard wearing.

Dual handles help make these slip-on on landscaping boots quick and easy to get into, though the Caterpillar Revolver will take a few days to break in. It is a competitively priced boot, and has plenty of size options. A version without safety toes is also available.

Best Waterproof: Carhartt Men’s 8″ Energy Waterproof Composite Toe

Best Waterproof

Why It Made The Cut: Carhartt has a reputation for high-quality work boots, and this one is both waterproof and has a non-conductive safety toe for enhanced electrical protection.

Key Features

  • Materials: Oil-tanned leather with rubber sole
  • Size Range: 8 – 15 (including wides)
  • Safety Toe: Composite

Pros

  • Waterproof and high shaft
  • Electrical protection to 18,000 volts
  • Competitive price

Cons

  • Occasional heel faults
  • Smallest size is 8

Carhartt is a well-known maker of high-quality footwear for both casual and work use. The 8” Energy boot has an upper made from oil-tanned leather. It is soaked in oil after the tanning process to make it supple while increasing water resistance. This is combined with Carhartt’s Storm Defender waterproof and breathable membrane to provide extreme protection against mud and water.

The composite safety toe meets ASTM impact and crushing standards. It is also non-conductive, and can withstand “incidental contact” up to 18,000 volts in dry conditions. Comfort is also a priority, with good arch support. The footbed has a non-slip top cover (claimed to reduce fatigue) with two layers of EVA padding, and an under-surface designed to spread the load over the whole foot. The outer sole has an aggressive tread pattern that provides high traction, and is oil and chemical resistant.

The Carharrt 8” Energy boot has a good range of sizes, though 8 is the smallest. A few owners have had problems with the rubberized heel section splitting away from the leather, but the problem doesn’t appear to be widespread.

How I Made My Picks

Having carried out quite extensive landscaping work on one of my former homes, I have some understanding of what makes a good landscaping boot. However, I will admit my experience is limited, so the Field & Stream team also researched construction methods, materials, and took into account feedback from both amateurs and landscaping professionals. In particular the following factors were considered.

  • Suitability for Purpose: A variety of boots could be used for landscaping. The best hiking boots for men (or the best hiking boots for women for that matter) share many characteristics with landscaping boots, as do some of the best upland hunting boots. However, they aren’t really focused on the task, and that’s what we wanted to look at in detail in this article. Other styles of boot could do the job, the ones we have selected do it better.
  • Versatility: Having said we wanted focused solutions when looking into the best boots for landscaping, we also realize that not everyone is a full-time pro. Good landscaping boots can be a significant investment, so having a function outside of the primary task adds value. Some of our picks compare well with the best hunting boots, for example. It’s important to emphasize that our choices are primarily because they are the best boots for landscaping. However, that doesn’t have to be their only purpose.
  • Value: Value is not specifically about price. If you buy cheap boots for landscaping and they are uncomfortable or fall apart, that’s poor value—however little money you paid. That said, buying based on brand alone is no guarantee of good performance. What we tried to do was find a representative selection from across the price range. While most of our picks are from widely recognized manufacturers, we didn’t necessarily choose their premium model. By selecting quality landscaping boots at a range of prices we hope to have offered something for all budgets.

FAQs

Q: How much do the best boots for landscaping cost?

Brand, material, size, and features all have an impact on what the best boots for landscaping cost. The examples above provide a good indication. We think it unlikely that you’ll find tough, comfortable boots for under $80, while some of the best quality footwear is over $200.

Q: What do you wear on your feet for landscaping?

What you should wear on your feet for landscaping are boots that offer good traction, adequate support for the foot, and remain comfortable all day long. Our picks above offer a range of solutions that meet these criteria, and have excellent durability too.

Q: Are safety toes needed for landscaping?

Whether safety toes are needed for landscaping often depends on the type of work being carried out, and in what environment. For D.I.Y. landscapers, there are no fixed rules. However, if there is a risk of crushing injury they make good sense, and are often no more expensive than soft toed boots. On professional job sites, they are often required to comply with health and safety regulations.

Q: What type of safety toes do the best work boots for landscaping use?

The type of safety toe found in the best work for landscaping use can be either steel or composite. Steel is often less expensive, but composite is lighter. If the level of protection is an issue you should check that the boots comply with the relevant ANSI or ASTM standard.

Q: How do you clean work boots for landscaping?

In most cases, you clean work boots for landscaping with dish soap, water, and a nylon bristled brush that is stiff enough to clean off the dirt, but won’t damage the boot material. Allow to dry naturally, out of direct sunlight, then rub in leather treatment or oil as recommended by the manufacturer.

Q: How often should you oil work boots?

How often you should oil work boots depends on the amount of use they get. Boots that are worn regularly will probably benefit from oiling once a month, whereas those that are only used occasionally can be oiled less frequently. A good sign that work boots need oil is the appearance of dry patches. We do have a proviso: It’s vital to read the manufacturer’s instructions on care. Pre-treated work boots, or those made from synthetic materials, might not need oiling at all.

Final Thoughts on the Best Boots for Landscaping

The Timberland PRO Pit Boss boot is tremendously popular for good reason. It’s comfortable, protective, tough, and offers excellent traction. While it isn’t cheap, it is still relatively affordable. About the only negative is that some people prefer their landscaping boots taller. The Ever Boots model also has many of the features we look for in the best boots for landscaping. Amateurs could buy a pair for that one big job, then kick around in them for years.