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A good yard cart will serve you well, but with such an enormous range available, it's hard to wade through the offerings to find the best one for your needs.
Size, load capacity, construction materials, durability, number and type of wheels — indeed, there’s a lot on offer here, and a lot to consider.
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So which is the best yard cart? The options in our product matrix, above, cover a broad range of of styles. Each represents the top choice in its group. For a detailed explanation of yard cart styles, load capacities, and more, read on.
When you're trying to choose the best yard cart, you'll come across a variety of different materials. Here’s a look at the most popular ones:
HDPE is high-density polyethylene. Resin is a common name for polypropylene composites. Both are relatively lightweight and, given sufficient thickness, can be very tough.
The danger with cheap yard carts is that the material can be too thin, which can lead to cracking. We advocate for yard cards with thicker HDPE and resin tubs. A terrific benefit: they require no maintenance and are easy to clean.
Luke owned and operated his own lawn and landscaping business for over a decade. Founding the business and growing it prior to an acquisition, Luke led all procurement decisions, from the purchase of blowers and lawn mowers to weed whackers and tillers. Luke uses all of these machines regularly.
Wooden yard carts look great, but the finish requires maintenance. Without proper care, the paint or varnish will eventually crack, moisture will invade, and rot will start.
You’ll often find a steel frame underpinning a cart of HDPE, resin, steel mesh, or wood. For strength and durability, steel is tough to beat. But you’ll pay a weight penalty, particularly if the cart is large.
The most important aspect of a steel yard cart component is its finish.
People have been using wood for hundreds of years, and it’s an undeniably attractive material for a yard cart. However, steel and plastic yard carts are stronger and easier to care for.
Some yard carts with mesh sides are lined with polyester sheeting. This material can help prevent dirt and debris from falling out. It’s light, easy to clean, and surprisingly tough. For maximum durability, we recommend you opt for a thickness of 600D or above.
Polyester sheets don’t tear easily, and their overall integrity stays strong. However, sharp tools and rocks could puncture the material.
Wheelbarrows are all about the same size, and due to that size, they can be difficult to maneuver for those with limited strength. Yard carts vary in size, from quite small to exceedingly large. Some consumers see this as a significant advantage.
Here’s a look at five yard cart types that might interest you. Each offers its own load capacity and other specific advantages.
A wheelbarrow might be a better choice for maneuvering tight corners or narrow aisles. But for moving around on inclines and carrying heavy loads, nothing can beat yard carts.
If you want something light and maneuverable, consider a small lawn cart with a tub made of resin or HDPE. These carts weigh as little as 10 or 12 pounds and are ideal for toting bits and pieces around the garden. Common capacities range from 15 to 20 gallons. (A gallon of water weighs eight pounds, so you have a theoretical maximum of 120 to 160 pounds. However, 50 to 70 pounds is a more practical limit for these smaller carts.)
Pros: Light. Low cost. Easy to clean. Ideal for consumers with reduced strength or mobility.
Cons: Small capacity. Cheap models may have durability issues. Can tip over if carrying long tools like rakes. Small, hard plastic wheels could dig into soft terrain. In most cases, however, you wouldn’t be carrying enough weight for this to happen.
If you want something a bit more stable and versatile than a wheelbarrow, consider a yard cart about the size of a wheelbarrow. A yard cart of this size offers greater stability than a wheelbarrow because it has two wheels. These models often sport a moulded, one-piece construction (save the axle and wheels) and are made of HDPE or resin. A weight of 10 to 15 pounds makes them easy to maneuver, and a load of 100 pounds should pose no problem. Some manufacturers claim a load of 200 pounds, but these figures are optimistic.
Pros: Light. Low cost. Easy to clean, though the corners can be tricky. Good ones are durable.
Cons: Cheap ones are prone to cracking. Small, hard plastic wheels may dig into soft terrain.
Pneumatic wheels carry the risk of puncture; but pneumatic wheels spread the load better and make it easier to pull your cart over uneven or soft ground.
If you need to move about 150 pounds, consider a folding garden cart, also called a utility wagon. These carts consume very little space when not in use. A jointed steel frame is wrapped in a polyester sheet, yielding an all-up weight (when empty) of 20 to 25 pounds. Note: polyester sheeting is fairly rugged, but sharp tools and rocks could still pierce it.
Pros: Easy to store. Polyester holds in items that would fall through a mesh cart. Four wheels offer increased stability. Lots of colors available. Some even have cup holders!
Cons: Fabric cannot usually be detached. Hinges require periodic oiling. Solid rubber tires are better than hard plastic but can still dig into soft terrain. Cart can be difficult to roll when folded.
If you're looking for a medium-size yard cart, you’ve got plenty of choices. These carts typically stand on four wheels and sport a steel frame, but the top container could be a poly tub, plastic tray, or steel mesh frame. These larger carts tend to weigh at least 30 pounds, but you'll be rewarded with a load capacity of 350 pounds or more.
Pros: Tough, durable frame. Big tub or basket is capable of carrying heavy, mixed loads. Steel mesh sides can usually be removed, leaving a flat bed.
Cons: Assembly may be required. Painted frames offer less durability than frames of coated steel. Can be heavy.
What's the difference between a yard cart and a wheelbarrow? The straightforward answer is that you pull a cart and push a wheelbarrow. Because a wheelbarrow has only one wheel, it can easily tip over. Carts tend to be more stable on the move.
The largest yard carts are, in essence, big versions of the medium-size ones discussed above. They’re available in the same range of materials and offer most of the same pros and cons. The difference lies in size and load capacity.
The bed of a large yard cart is usually several feet wide (at minimum) and three or more feet long. These models weigh upwards of 60 pounds. As a result, you get yard carts capable of carrying 1,000 pounds or more. Luke, our landscaping expert, has used a yard cart to carry gravel, mulch, sand, and bags of concrete.
If you expect to attach your yard cart to an ATV, mower, or other vehicle, bear in mind that the quality of the connection matters. Luke tells us he’s seen some people use trailers with a heavy load capacity, but the tongue bent and ruined the trailer because it was either loaded improperly or the steel connection was too weak.
When attaching your yard cart to the hitch of a mower or ATV, assess the situation carefully. Make sure your connections are strong and the method in which you load the trailer is carefully thought out. Consult both instruction manuals to put safety first, and take extra caution around slopes and turns.
When attaching a riding mower to another object, consider taking off the mower deck for safety reasons. With the deck left on, you must worry about clearance and other safety issues.
So what should you expect to pay for a good yard cart? That depends on the style and size you choose.
Wheelbarrows have a lot going for them, but you can't beat the versatility, flexibility, and flat out load-carrying ability of a good yard cart. You also have a much greater variety to choose from: everything from small hand carts to large models designed for ATV or riding mower use fall under the “yard cart” umbrella.
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At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.