Buyer’s Guide for Selecting the Best Wheelbarrow for Your Lawn and Garden

As a gardener, you know that a good wheelbarrow is your best friend. It is handy throughout every season. Selecting the best wheelbarrow for your lawn and garden means matching the wheelbarrow to your garden size and type.

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The classic wheelbarrow consists of a bin, a single wheel, two props (to create a stable three-point resting platform), and two handles all held together with a sturdy frame. The barrow pictured above has clearly seen hard use – as will your wheelbarrow, unless your garden is a small greenhouse, or a windowsill. A classic wheelbarrow is designed with a single wheel to allow it to easily slip between rows of plants and fit down narrow pathways. Newer models, which are more functional as lawn and yard carts, might have more wheels. The added wheels increase stability, but can make maneuvering through narrow rows or sprawling summer plant growth more difficult.

If you have a large lawn or garden, you might prefer a lawn or garden cart instead of a wheelbarrow. Carts tend to have an increased capacity, usually have more wheels, and can sometimes be towed behind a riding lawn mower or lawn and garden tractor. This article will focus on wheelbarrows and handcarts – simply to narrow the wide variety of choices available to modern gardeners.

There is a wide range of products available on the market today, and below I have reviewed 5 of the very best options.

**Below, you will find more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices and read customer reviews on Amazon.

Ideal Use of a Wheelbarrow

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The ideal use of a wheelbarrow is to move a load that is larger than you might want to carry by hand from one place to another. The poor lass in the Gainsboro painting shown above clearly needs a wheelbarrow. Since the classic wheelbarrow has only one wheel, that load will still need to be small enough and light enough that you can lift it, but it might be bulky, slithery, dirty or otherwise undesirable to carry in a container or loose in your arms. Even though you must be able to raise the props off the ground in order to move the load, the weight will be primarily balanced on the wheelbarrows single wheel. Since the wheel will be the focal point of the weight, along with the frame, the structure and interaction of these two items will be of paramount importance in your wheelbarrow design.

One common use of a wheelbarrow is to mix or transport concrete or cement. The wet mixture can then be wheeled directly to the work location – which might be in a space that cannot be reached directly by a cement truck, or that might be too small a job to consider engaging a large vehicle. When gardening, your wheel barrow can also serve as a handy container for mixing compost or soil to a specified consistency or Ph level. Using your wheelbarrow as a container allows the soil/nutrient mix to easily be stirred, distributing its parts evenly, before shoveling or dumping it into the desired location.

Choosing Wheels

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The wheels on your wheelbarrow can affect its performance. The old-style, metal wagon wheel or wooden wheels are not usually found on modern wheelbarrows – and with good reason. Wooden wheels wear down and decay after a time; and the metal ones can bend or wear thin. Modern wheelbarrow wheels come primarily in two types: A solid rubber/plastic synthetic rim on a metal center or air-filled tires similar to tires for an automobile – also mounted on a metal rim.

Each of these has its advantages and disadvantages. The solid rubber tires give good wear over time. They can be run over almost any terrain and not become damaged. They fit well between rows. But they give the contents of your cart a bumpy ride, they can become caked with mud, and they offer no advantage in movement.

The inflated tires are wider and do not fit as well between rows. However, they are easier to push over muddy ground and cushion the contents of the cart from vibrations and bumps. Their biggest disadvantage is that if you run over a thorn, nail or sharp flint rock the tire can be punctured and will need repair. Your wheelbarrow is out of commission until the wheel is repaired or replaced.

Sturdy Frame

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In the old nursery rhyme about the miller boy who lived by himself, the poor fellow has only his wheelbarrow in which to give his new wife a ride home. The verses run, “The streets were so wide and the lanes were so narrow, he was forced to bring her home in an old wheelbarrow. The wheelbarrow broke, and little wifey had a fall – down came barrow, wifey and all.”

Had the young groom paid attention to the condition and structure of the frame of the “old wheelbarrow” he might have been spared embarrassment and his new wife’s indignation. Wheel barrow frames were traditionally made of a sturdy hardwood. More recent models make use of hollow metal pipes – usually made of steel, but sometimes created from an aluminum alloy. The alloys are easier to move about, but the steel frames are stronger.

A light barrow is fine for most garden work, but if you anticipate moving rocks, gravel, sand or concrete mix, you will want a sturdier frame. Some garden carts are almost completely constructed of molded synthetic materials. These are excellent for garden work and are highly resistant to weathering. However, once they begin to deteriorate or break, it is time for a new wheelbarrow.

Basket Size & Type

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The wheelbarrows pictured below are only two of the many types of wheelbarrow bed or basket available. Some older or home-made models will simply have a flat bed with a front rack to keep items from slipping off when the wheelbarrow is in use. The wheelbarrow pictured on the reader’s right has a deep bucket. This type is suitable for mixing cement or earth. Notice the metal handles and the reinforced frame.

The wheelbarrow pictured on the left is also a sturdy model. Notice the smooth lip to make it easy to pour out the contents. Again, notice the metal frame. The wheels on both these models are inflatable. They are probably used primarily for construction, but would be suitable for heavy gardening as well.

Product Reviews – The Best Wheelbarrow

1. Marathon Dual-Wheel Residential Yard Rover Wheelbarrow and Yard Cart – Green

Via Amazon.com

As can be noted from the descriptive title, the dual-wheel residential yard rover has two wheels, which makes it technically more of a garden cart than a classic wheelbarrow. However, it does have the two back props and it is necessary to use the handle to life the cart. Its two wheels are inflatable, which gives the contents an easier ride and makes it easily maneuverable.

The deep poly bin has a sloped forward lip which enables easy dumping of contents. The frame is a light-weight metal. This might be a good barrow for leaf collection, light compost, and harvesting garden vegetables. It will need a wider track than a traditional one-wheeled barrow. Its light weight means less fatigue for weekend gardeners who might not want a heavy wheelbarrow.

Pros

  • Light weight for easy jobs
  • Maneuverable
  • Good shape for tipping

Cons

  • Not intended for heavy jobs
  • Inflated tires
  • Light metal frame

2. WORX Aerocart Multifunction 2-Wheeled Yard Cart, Dolly, and Wheelbarrow with Flat Free Tires – WG050

Via Amazon.com

The Worx Aerocart is a swiss army knife of a lawn and garden tool. It is more of a yard cart than a classic wheelbarrow – since even in wheelbarrow mode it has two wheels. It can be converted into a dolly or a cylinder mover, and it has extension arms that make it easier to move oversized or awkward loads. The box set also includes a mesh for moving rocks. It is made of metal, and has solid, no-inflation-needed tires.

On the minus side, it is a little smaller than any of these tools might be when purchased individually. It isn’t quite as sturdy, either. However, for a homeowner or renter who does not have room to store a number of movers, this could be a good buy. It is designed for those multitudinous outdoor chores that always seem to involve moving something to somewhere.

Pros

  • Several mover functions in one unit
  • All-metal construction
  • Solid Tires – no inflation needed

Cons

  • Smaller than the standard version of each function
  • Not well-suited to heavy construction
  • Dual wheels

3. Ames CP6PS Poly Wheelbarrow, 6 Cubic Feet, Black

Via Amazon.com

The Ames CP6PS is, for the most part, a traditional wheelbarrow. It has one wheel, American ash hardwood handled, and a poured, poly bin held together with a metal frame. With a 600-pound load capacity, this wheelbarrow will take on those difficult jobs. The molded bin has an ergonomic pouring lip that is designed for easy pour of concrete, cement or soil mixes. There is a kit available that can be used to make it into a three-wheeled cart. Its one wheel is pneumatic, meaning that it is inflatable.

Pros

  • Rated for 600 lbs.
  • One pneumatic tire – easy maneuverability
  • Uniquely molded pour lip

Cons

  • Inflated tires can be punctured
  • Needs an added kit to convert to three wheeled

4. Rubbermaid Commercial FG564200BLA HDPE Big-Wheel Dump Truck, 300-pound Capacity, Black

Via Amazon.com

The Rubbermaid big-wheel dump truck is another garden cart. This is an excellent example of a molded cart, however. The bin, handles and props are all molded in one piece. The bin is deep, so those leaves, weeds and compost bits won’t scatter across the yard at the first breeze. The pneumatic tires are tall, for easy handling. While it is an unlikely candidate for mixing concrete, it will still work very well for soil mixes and all sorts of lawn and garden maintenance transportation.

Pros

  • Weather resistant
  • Ergonomic
  • Molded design – very little to come loose.
  • Maneuverable

Cons

  • Inflated tires

5. True Temper 8 Cubic Foot Dual Wheel Poly Wheelbarrow - RP810

Amazon.com

Although this True Temper has two wheels, it is in every other way a true wheelbarrow. The dual wheels give it more stability, but are located near each other next to the metal fork that holds the hardwood handles together. The bin is molded poly, but the handles, inflatable wheels and bin are held together with a metal frame. You might say that this is just a good, basic wheelbarrow for lawn and garden work.

Pros

  • Molded bin
  • Hardwood handles
  • Metal Frame

Cons

  • Inflatable tires

Choosing the Best Wheelbarrow for Your Yard and Garden

My pick out of this list of wheelbarrows is the Ames CP6PS Poly Wheelbarrow, with the Rubbermaid molded cart coming in as a strong second. I like the Ames, in spite of its inflatable tires, because when I want to move something, I don’t want to worry about my cart failing under the weight. Furthermore, I like the single wheel for getting into tight places in the garden. For lighter work, such as moving leaves, compost and weeds, Rubbermaid has that nice, deep bin and the large wheels make it easy to move.

James G. Craig
 

James G. Craig is a gardening enthusiast who splits his spare time between growing vegetables, preening his flower gardens, and blogging about his experiences at the Gardener Corner.

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