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Whether you're hauling grass clippings to your garden compost heap or completing a large construction job, a wheelbarrow could be exactly what you need to make life easier.
The trouble is, so many makes, models, and varieties exist on today’s wheelbarrow on market, it can be tricky to decide which one is right for you.
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In our product matrix, above, you'll find product descriptions of our top five wheelbarrow picks. If you want to learn more about wheelbarrows and how to find the perfect one for you, please read on.
It's important to think about what you'll be using your wheelbarrow for before purchasing it, as different units are better suited for different jobs. Here are some of the most common uses for wheelbarrows:
Light Garden Work
You might use a wheelbarrow to haul trimmings to your compost pile.
Heavy Garden Work
A wheelbarrow lightens your load when you want to move heavy soil, compost, or gravel.
If you’ve got bricks or sand to haul, a wheelbarrow makes the job easier.
Do you need to spread fertilizer or gather the fruits of your garden? A wheelbarrow can help.
For instance, cleaning out a horse’s stall is much easier with a wheelbarrow at hand.
For average garden tasks, a simple, lightweight model of wheelbarrow will suffice. But if you need it for construction work or heavy hauling, consider a more durable “contractor” model.
The majority of wheelbarrows are made of metal — usually steel — or plastic. Each material offers its own pros and cons.
Metal wheelbarrows are stronger than plastic ones and can sometimes carry heavier loads.
Metal wheelbarrows usually look more attractive.
Compared to plastic varieties, metal wheelbarrows are heavier and less maneuverable.
Metal wheelbarrows make more noise when you push them around.
For the average user doing garden work, any good-quality wheelbarrow should have a weight capacity that’s more than adequate.
Plastic wheelbarrows are more weather-resistant, even when left outside.
Compared to their metal counterparts, plastic wheelbarrows tend to be more affordable.
Plastic wheelbarrows are lighter and more nimble.
Some people think plastic wheelbarrows look cheaper.
Plastic wheelbarrows can crack in exceptionally cold weather.
If you plan to carry heavy loads, a metal wheelbarrow would probably serve your needs better than a plastic one.
Keep the following factors in mind when choosing a wheelbarrow:
This term refers to the volume of the tub of your wheelbarrow. Volume capacity is usually measured in cubic feet.
The higher the cubic feet measurement, the more the wheelbarrow can carry. So, if you want to haul a lot of stuff at once, opt for a unit with a large capacity. Bear in mind, however, that a wheelbarrow with a larger capacity does not necessarily hold more weight.
A unit with a capacity of seven cubic feet would probably satisfy most users who have lots to haul. A unit with a capacity of three to five cubic feet would probably meet the needs of most people who seek help with average garden tasks.
One wheelbarrow may have a larger volume than another, but that doesn't necessarily mean it can hold more weight.
Wheelbarrows have either rounded or flat noses.
Those with flat noses can only be tipped forward when emptied, whereas those with rounded noses can be tipped at a variety of different angles.
This term refers to how much weight your wheelbarrow can hold.
If you plan to do heavy-duty work with your wheelbarrow, pay attention to the manufacturer’s stated weight capacity.
A heavy-duty wheelbarrow might have a stated weight capacity of 400 lbs. Pay attention to the specs from the manufacturer, as they can help guide your buying decision — especially if you’ll be hauling larger loads.
Wheelbarrows sport either solid rubber tires or air-filled tires with an inner tube that must be pumped.
Rubber tires are great because they never go flat, but they're harder to push over soft terrain, and you’re in for a bumpy ride on rough surfaces. They could also mark your lawn, especially if the soil is soft.
Wheelbarrows with larger wheels perform much better "off road" than those with smaller wheels. A small-wheeled barrow can be hard to push over uneven terrain.
Traditional wheelbarrows have a single handle on each side, but some units have one handle that curves all the way around.
Separate handles make the unit easier to maneuver, tilt, and dump. However, they require significant hand strength to operate. Furthermore, you cannot realistically expect to use this type of wheelbarrow with just one hand.
If you have narrow shoulders, you may find a wheelbarrow with a single curved handle easier and more comfortable to manage.
Think carefully about the size of your chosen wheelbarrow — especially the width — if you’ll be navigating narrow spaces.
You certainly wouldn’t want to buy a large wheelbarrow only to discover it won't fit where you need it to go.
If in doubt, measure the narrowest space through which you'll need to fit it and compare the dimensions against the manufacturer's specifications.
Air-filled tires on wheelbarrows are known as "pneumatic tires."
For most consumers, color matters little when choosing a wheelbarrow. After all, it’s quality that counts.
But if you can't choose between several evenly matched models, why not let color guide your decision?
You'll find wheelbarrows in all sorts of hues, from unfinished metal to royal blue. If it's going to grace your yard, you might as well choose a color you don't mind looking at regularly.
A wheelbarrow with a rounded nose is slightly more versatile than a unit with a flat nose. However, a rounded-nose wheelbarrow can be a little more unstable when tilting and dumping.
The market offers wheelbarrows to suit a variety of budgets. It’s worth noting, however, that you get what you pay for with wheelbarrows. Saving $40 now might mean having to buy a replacement in a year or two.
The lowest price you'll pay for a basic, durable garden wheelbarrow is about $60 to $70. Such an item should withstand several years of use.
If you want something a bit more heavy-duty that will last for years to come, we suggest a wheelbarrow in the $100 to $150 range.
Unless you need an extremely heavy-duty wheelbarrow for professional construction work, you shouldn't need to pay more than $150 for a good product at this time.
Q. Should I buy a wheelbarrow with one wheel or two?
A. This depends on how you plan to use it and what you plan to haul. A two-wheeled barrow offers more stability than a one-wheeled model; it’s perfect for toting heavy or unstable loads. But a one-wheeled barrow is much more nimble, so it works well with lighter loads — like garden waste — especially if you need to turn lots of corners or take it up and down a winding garden path.
Q. Is a plastic or a metal wheelbarrow best for me?
A. Although metal wheelbarrows may be slightly more durable, strong modern plastics have all but leveled the playing field. If you're on a tight budget, consider a sturdy plastic wheelbarrow. They tend to be cheaper than metal varieties, like for like.
Q. Where should I store my wheelbarrow?
A. If you have a shed or garage in which you can store your wheelbarrow, this is ideal. Storing it away from the elements might help functionality and finish. But wheelbarrows are designed to be durable, so you shouldn’t worry too much if you just keep it out in the yard. That said, a plastic wheelbarrow will last longer in the open air because it won't rust.
Q. What should I do if I find wheelbarrows awkward and unstable to push?
A. If you feel unstable pushing a standard one-wheeled barrow, it's worth trying out the two-wheeled kind. They're far more stable and less likely to tip, even when you have an unwieldy load. However, they're not quite as easy to maneuver as the one-wheeled varieties are.