If you spend any time gardening or landscaping, you've got to have a good wheelbarrow. While these lowly vehicles may look similar, they're not all designed to accomplish the same tasks. After all, the best wheelbarrow for hauling relatively lightweight twigs and fallen leaves may not stand up to having concrete mixed in its tub. If you're in the market for a wheelbarrow, read on to learn what to look for when shopping, then check out specifics on these models that outdoor DIYers like you rate as best in class:
- BEST FOR LIGHT GARDENING: Simplay3 Easy Haul 4 Cubic Feet Wheelbarrow
- BEST SINGLE-BAR HANDLE WHEELBARROW: Marathon Dual-Wheel Yard Rover Ladybug Wheelbarrow
- BEST DUAL-USE WHEELBARROW: WORX All-Purpose Aerocart Wheelbarrow
- BEST FOR KIDS: Seymore Lightweight Children's Wheelbarrow
The best wheelbarrow won't be worth much in your yard if it can't tote your load, so your first consideration should be tub capacity, which is measured in cubic feet. Though you'll find tubs with anywhere from 2.5 to 10 cubic feet, most homeowners are good with four to six cubic feet. Larger tubs make it possible to haul bigger loads, but they're heavier and harder to push, so it's best to get just the size that fits your needs. One notable exception: If you plan to mix concrete, you'll want at least a seven-foot cubic capacity to keep the concrete from sloshing out as you prepare it.
Material: Steel vs. Plastic
The tubs on today's wheelbarrows made of either thick molded plastic (polyethylene) or steel, and the structural frame is usually made from steel. Steel tubs are stronger than plastic and can handle hauling heavy loads, such as bricks and rocks, but run approximately $20 to $80 more than similar size models with molded plastic tubs. Steel is also heavier than plastic, which can make a fully loaded wheelbarrow harder to push. Let your intended usage be your guide: If you only need to move lightweight loads, go with a molded plastic tub; if you've got to heavy materials or will be mixing concrete, opt for a steel tub as plastic ones are more likely to crack under heavy weight.
Wheels: One vs. Two
The traditional wheelbarrow design features a single wheel in the front and two steel legs in the rear to balance the vehicle. This design works well for maneuvering and dumping lightweight loads, but can be prone to tipping over under heavy loads. Wheelbarrows with two wheels, one on either side of the front of the tub, offer additional tip-resistance, but these models are more difficult to pivot sharply, such as when you're pushing the wheelbarrow down a winding path or need to back up and go in a different direction.
Wheelbarrow tires are either solid, made of rubber or plastic, or inflatable-much like those on a car or bicycle. Inflatable tires offer a bit of cushion, which can keep the wheelbarrow from bouncing around, but if one goes flat, you'll have to air it up (with a bicycle pump) or repair a hole with a patch kit. If you want a maintenance-free model, you're best off with solid rubber tires.
You can find plastic wheelbarrows with steel frames that weigh as little as 15 pounds, while all-steel models can tip the scales 65 pounds-before you add anything to the tub. At the heavier end, you'll find contractor-type wheelbarrows that are suited to carrying heavy loads up to 300 pounds, while some of the lighter-weight versions can only haul about 60 pounds. For the average homeowner, an empty weight of around 20 to 40 pounds is usually satisfactory-these wheelbarrows typically offer maximum weight loads ranging from 90 to 150 pounds, more than enough for most common yard tasks, such as hauling topsoil or moving cans of paint.
Two straight handles, often made from steel or hardwood, are standard on the majority of wheelbarrows, and they're great for most hauling tasks. But if you don't have ample arm strength, it can be difficult to push a fully loaded wheelbarrow with basic handles. As an alternative, consider bent-arm handles ergonomically designed to let you lift and steer with less strain. There are also single-arm bar handles (think: shopping cart) that allow users to pull a two-wheel model as well as push it. Some versions offer cushioned grips that cut down on blisters and hand fatigue as well.
Most wheelbarrows are plain Jane but some newer models, designed for gardeners, offer a few bells and whistles. Look for handy drink and cell phone holders, trays for pruning shears or gardening gloves, and even fold-down dolly shelves for moving large flowerpots and other heavy items.
We've selected these wheelbarrows as best for specific gardening and landscaping uses based on design, cost, and the satisfaction of DIYers who've already tested them out.
1. BEST FOR LIGHT GARDENING: Simplay3 Easy Haul 4 Cubic Feet Wheelbarrow
Whether you need to haul seedlings, fertilizer, or dry leaves, the Simplay3 Easy Haul 4-Cubic Feet Wheelbarrow will help you make quick work of your task. Its deep, molded plastic tub has a flat bottom to keep containers from tipping over, and it comes with a modified, single-bar handle that contains an additional built-in bucket for stashing such gardening gear as gloves and pruners. It features two wheels, solid tires, and is designed to tilt forward easily for dumping. Gardeners love its innovative design, durability, and the ability to pull it as well as push it. At 23 pounds, it's relatively lightweight and well-suited for most gardeners.
2. BEST SINGLE-BAR HANDLE WHEELBARROW: Marathon Dual-Wheel Yard Rover Ladybug Wheelbarrow
If you need a medium-size wheelbarrow that's easy to push and pull in comfort, look no further than the Marathon 5-Cubic Feet Dual-Wheel Ladybug Wheelbarrow. Its rugged molded-plastic tub securely holds your load while it's two inflatable rubber wheels offer cushioning to prevent bouncing over uneven terrain, and the single-bar handle has a cushioned grip to reduce hand fatigue. The wheelbarrow weighs in at 29 pounds-lightweight enough to maneuver, yet heavy enough to offer load stability.
3. BEST DUAL-USE WHEELBARROW: WORX All-Purpose Aerocart Wheelbarrow
With its rugged steel tub and solid rubber tires, the WORX 3-Cubic Feet Aerocart Wheelbarrow makes landscaping more pleasure than a chore. It's on the heavier side at 49 pounds but features an adjustable center of gravity, which lets you tweak the balance to suit the weight of the load. Plus, the WORX features an attached dolly shelf that folds down to transport large pots or rocks.
4. BEST FOR KIDS: Seymore Lightweight Children's Wheelbarrow
It's never too soon to encourage kids to help with outdoor chores! The Seymore Lightweight Children's Wheelbarrow weighs just six pounds-light enough for kids as young as three to push. This “real” wheelbarrow boasts smooth hardwood handles, a 1.5-cubic foot, built-to-last molded plastic tub, and a solid rubber tire will never go flat.