Best Gardening Carts

Updated October 2021
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
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HOW WE TESTED

We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

30
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160
Consumers
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14
Hours
Researched

Buying guide for Best gardening carts

There’s no substitute for a good gardening cart when you want to move plants, dirt, or landscaping materials like pavers around your yard. It is a versatile and labor-saving garden tool.

However, with a quite bewildering range of alternatives available, it can be difficult to decide which is the best gardening cart for your needs. It’s the kind of challenge that BestReviews thrives on, and we’ve been investigating the features of an enormous selection of gardening carts to help you with your decision.

We’ve picked a few favorites that illustrate the wide choice of price and performance options. If you’re close to making a decision, you might well find what you’re looking for right there. For those who would like more detail, we’ve put together the following buying guide. It takes a close look at the various types of gardening carts, discusses their strengths and weaknesses, and answers some of the most common questions about them.

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Your gardening cart is bound to get wet at some point, and a steel frame is prone to rust. Look for the added protection offered by either a powder-coated or galvanized finish.

Key considerations

When deciding which is the best gardening cart for your purposes, you want to think about these areas: configuration, materials, capacity, and mobility.

Two wheels

Plastic: The cheapest gardening carts are simple plastic resin buckets on a pair of wheels, usually with a long handle. These are durable, lightweight, easy to clean, and perfect for moving modest amounts of plants or materials around smaller yards. Their only drawback is a tendency to topple over on uneven ground or if not filled carefully.

Fabric: For similar money, you’ll also find small canvas folding models. They’re very compact when not in use, though the carrying capacity isn’t huge, and there’s a risk the canvas sides will tear if you put a sharp implement in there. That said, one of these carts could also be used as a shopping cart or beach cart, so they’re quite versatile.

Four wheels

We suspect most people shopping for a gardening cart are looking for the added capacity of a four-wheeled version. These come as either folding models with fabric sides or solid-steel frames supporting either a polyethylene tub or steel mesh sides.

Fabric: As with two-wheeled gardening carts, folding four-wheeled versions are very compact when stored but lose out to solid versions in load-carrying ability (more on that below). Like their smaller counterparts, there’s also a danger of puncturing or tearing the fabric, although it’s usually quite resilient. Fabric thickness is given as denier (D), and we’d look for 600D or above for the kind of toughness you want for garden use. Also look for fabric that is resistant to UV damage and mold.

Plastic: Carts with polyethylene (often called poly) tubs are very durable, and deeper models can carry loose sand or muddy or wet items without spilling the contents everywhere. They’re also easy to clean with a hose. As with the fabric models, look for UV resistance. The color will probably fade after long exposure outdoors, but the polyethylene won’t disintegrate, which can happen with unprotected plastics.

Steel mesh: Some of the carts with mesh sides have a solid base as a removable option, and with some you can remove the sides completely to provide a flat load bed, which is very useful if you have long or wide items to move around. While loose material or liquids would fall through the holes, it’s possible to use plastic sheeting as a temporary liner if needed.

Convertible: There are a few models, often called utility carts, that can convert from a tub type to a load platform to a dolly, and so on. These offer tremendous flexibility, but they are expensive and somewhat overly complicated if what you want is primarily a gardening cart.

Capacity

While the size of small, bucket-type gardening carts is usually given in gallons, larger models have a weight rating in pounds. Always assume that this is an absolute maximum. It’s also a good idea to carry less weight if you’re dragging the cart over rocky ground, which puts extra stress on the frame and wheels.

The frame of a four-wheeled folding gardening cart isn’t as sturdy as that on a solid model, but many can comfortably handle 100 pounds or so. If you’re having difficulty picturing how much that is, a standard bag of compost weighs around 40 pounds. Fixed, steel-framed models have a capacity of anywhere from 300 to 1,000 pounds.

Of course, it’s not all about maximum load. Often you have light but bulky items to transport. That being the case, it’s equally important to check the external dimensions of the gardening cart you’re considering.

Mobility

Gardening carts come in a variety of different wheel and tire combinations. Lightweight carts used on hard surfaces do fine with solid plastic wheels, although those with rubber tires are less jarring and quieter. However, they do tend to dig into soft ground. That’s when you want pneumatic tires to help spread the load and reduce damage to a lawn or other surfaces. They are also better over rocky ground because they help absorb the bumps.

Most people would struggle to move the 1,000 pound load that some of these gardening carts can handle, so heavy-duty models are usually designed to be towed (behind a lawn tractor, for example). Top models have convertible handles, giving you the option of hauling by hand or attaching it to a vehicle.

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Did You Know?
If you want to tow your gardening cart with a lawn tractor or other machine, you’ll need to check how the two can be connected.
Staff
BestReviews

Accessories


Gardening gloves: Pine Tree Tools Working Gloves
Good gardening gloves protect your hands and improve your grip on tools. You also need enough sensitivity to be able to handle delicate plants. These gloves combine breathable bamboo with rubberized palms so they’re comfortable in all conditions yet durable too. They’re even touchscreen-friendly!

Garden tool belt: Truly Garden Tool Belt
Carry all your tools and other bits and pieces around with this high-quality garden tool belt. It’s made from tough 600D nylon that shrugs off damp and dirt and offers great convenience and versatility with lots of different pockets. Adjustability runs from a 26- to 48-inch waist, and it can double as a DIY tool belt.

It’s hard to beat a folding garden cart for compact storage when not in use but check that the load capacity is enough for your needs.

Staff
BestReviews

Gardening cart prices

Inexpensive: The cheapest gardening carts we looked at are light-duty, two-wheeled models that cost between $35 and $40. These are ideal for small gardens.

Mid-range: Larger four-wheeled gardening carts start at around $60 for a folding model with a weigh rating of 150 pounds and go up to $100 or so for a solid-frame cart that holds 600 pounds. Carts in this bracket offer excellent value and will probably suit the majority of buyers.

Expensive: Heavy-duty gardening carts that can handle 1,000 pounds start at about $150. Multipurpose cart/dolly models can be as much as $300, but they do offer outstanding flexibility.

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Did You Know?
Dirt and grit can get into wheel bearings and other joints and cause premature wear. A quick cleaning followed by lubrication with a multipurpose oil will prolong the life of your gardening cart.
Staff
BestReviews

Tips

Garden carts offer excellent stability, but they aren’t foolproof. These straightforward tips can help you avoid accidents or injuries.

  • Protect your back. Basic lifting 101 says to bend your knees and crouch rather than bend over from the waist when picking up anything heavy.
  • Don’t exceed the load rating of your cart. If there’s too much to carry in one trip, try to split the load equally rather than carry one heavy load and one light. You’ll save energy and reduce the chances of straining yourself.
  • Balance the load. Keep it as even as possible. Put heavier items on the bottom and lighter ones on top.
  • Go up and down an incline, not across. If you must go from one side of a hill to another with a loaded cart, go at an angle to reduce the chance of the load tipping. Take several small loads rather than one big one.
  • Keep chocks handy. If you need to stop on an incline, have chocks ready for the wheels. You don’t need anything special. Bricks or logs should do the job.
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It’s tempting to opt for maximum load capacity, but if you have 500 pounds of dirt or gear on a cart, are you physically capable of moving it?

FAQ

Q. Is a gardening cart better than a wheelbarrow?

A. That’s a tough question. Some would probably say that a wheelbarrow is a type of garden cart, and there are certainly a number of two-wheeled garden carts that are not unlike wheelbarrows. The big benefit with a wheelbarrow is the better maneuverability offered by the single front wheel, though lifting a full wheelbarrow can be difficult, and there’s a risk of it tipping over.

The main difference comes with four-wheeled gardening carts, which generally have greater load-hauling capacities (particularly those that can be hooked up to a lawn tractor). They also provide greater stability.

There’s no easy answer that suits all gardeners. You’ll have to think carefully about what you need. If you have a large garden, you might want to consider getting a small wheelbarrow for weeding and light-duty tasks and a four-wheeled garden cart for larger jobs.

Q. Will my gardening cart come fully assembled?

A. It varies. Many two-wheeled garden carts come ready to use, but four-wheeled models often need minor frame assembly and the wheels attached. It’s not a complicated job, and it frequently takes less than 30 minutes. Some manufacturers provide online videos to help you.

Q. Is it easy to get spare tires for my garden cart?

A. Yes. Depending on the model, you’ll be able to get a replacement inner tube, new tire, or even a wheel with the tire already fitted so all you have to do is inflate it. Just be careful to check the size carefully (it’s usually marked on the sidewall on pneumatic tires). If your garden cart has solid wheels, there are also many alternatives available, often from the same retailer who sold you the cart.

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