Among all the garden tools, you may think that the humble wheelbarrow doesn’t require too much thought, however, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
There are many points to consider when choosing a wheelbarrow that will suit your needs but many people still find themselves asking the question ‘ How do I choose a wheelbarrow?’
This guide will give you all the information you will need to select a wheelbarrow that will serve you for many years (and jobs) to come.
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When you first set out on your gardening journey, you may not have a need for a wheelbarrow, moving things without one may be enough, however, for larger jobs and those who spend much more time in the garden, a good wheelbarrow is essential.
Did you know that there are many types of wheelbarrow?
In days gone by, there wasn’t very much choice but in our modern society, it would appear that there is a wheelbarrow for every eventuality.
Why Do I Need A Wheelbarrow?
The first thing you should think about when selecting a wheelbarrow is what you are planning to use it for. Some people may need it for shifting weeds and grass to the garden waste bin or compost heap whereas others may require something a little more durable for moving heavier debris and rubble.
You should also think about the terrain on which you intend to use the wheelbarrow – are you going to be mostly on a flat surface or are there a number of hills and mounds to compete with? It may sound a little obscure, but this is an important point – you wouldn’t buy a Ferrari to drive down a mountain.
Deciding on the use for your new wheelbarrow will give you a good idea of the shape, size, strength and even price that you should be looking for. For the most part, there are three main types of wheelbarrow to choose from.
Types Of Wheelbarrows And Their Features
Materials And Size
It is also worth bearing in mind that, aside from the three main types of wheelbarrow, they also come in different materials – plastic or metal tubs. Plastic tubs are much more lightweight and generally a better option for mixing concrete since a steel tub can become damaged from this.
Additionally, they are ideal for moving lighter items such as plants, mulch and compost. Although, you should keep in mind that plastic tubs do crack more easily and may be damaged if there is a rapid change in temperature, causing the plastic to split.
Metal tubs are a lot more hardy and can be used to move heavier duty things such as rubble, larger plants and brick, amongst other things. However, due to their nature, they are prone to rust and so it is important to store the wheelbarrow correctly in order to increase its lifespan.
In addition to rust problems, steel tubs are much heavier and so take a lot more effort to haul around your outdoor space – something to keep in mind if you struggle moving heavier items. There is, however, the option to select a galvanised metal tub which is a type of treated metal – usually steel, that can last for up to a century! If properly taken care of.
Your wheelbarrow choices are even further expanded when you learn that there are different size options for the tub – for the most part, wheelbarrows come in sizes between 90 and 120 litres and what you choose will depend on how much you have to shift and how many trips to wish you take.
One of the most important things to consider when choosing a wheelbarrow is whether there is a good grip on the handles – not only will this make moving the piece of equipment around much easier but it will also prevent your hands from becoming sore.
The most preferable option is a handle that features rubber or plastic grips, giving you the most effective and comfortable hold.
There are some wheelbarrows that have a single handle and these can be attached to an all-terrain vehicle for easier unloading, however, most commonly, wheelbarrows come with two handles. How you wish to dump your load will have a bearing on which option you select.
For most people, a wheelbarrow has one wheel – and whilst this is one of the most common types, they do come with a variety of wheel numbers and designs.
The one-wheeled wheelbarrow makes moving the equipment around your outdoor space a lot easier, making turning the wheelbarrow a cinch. It also allows for much easier unloading, however, there are downsides to this type of wheelbarrow that you should consider.
Whilst it is easier to tackle corners with a lighter load, hills and rugged terrain make a one-wheeler a less desirable option. Additionally, if you are carrying a heavier load, the single wheel can make control a lot more difficult.
If you are looking for a wheelbarrow that is more stable and sturdy, a two-wheeled option might be a better choice. Not only are they more stable when static but manoeuvring them is much easier. For even heavier loads, a four-wheeled wheelbarrow may work better since these can be dragged behind you, lessening the effort you need to put in when moving tough loads.
When looking for a wheelbarrow that will make your life easier, one fitted with a pneumatic tyre will be the best option and for the most part, wheelbarrows feature these tyres. However, plastic wheels are sometimes featured on cheaper wheelbarrows, these are fine if you are working on a flat, smooth surface with very light loads, otherwise, they may buckle and shatter under the pressure.
Within the tyres of your wheelbarrow, there are ball bearings and the quality of these depend on how well the tyres function. The better the ball bearing the more weight the wheelbarrow will handle and the easier it will be to move along.
Other Wheelbarrow Features
It may come as a surprise to learn that some wheelbarrows have even more features and when choosing the right wheelbarrow for you, it is essential to consider whether these will be beneficial for the purpose you intend to use the wheelbarrow for.
One such feature is a rack and whilst not all wheelbarrows have one, they can be particularly handy for storage of items and tools you may need or carrying an additional load.
For wheelbarrows with less than four wheels, there is a rest on which the barrow sits whilst static. Whilst there are a variety of material options for this, it is advisable to go for a sturdy metal rest to prevent it from becoming damaged when carrying heavy loads.
Finally, if you are looking to purchase a metal wheelbarrow, many of these, as we mentioned earlier, are rust-resistant and are great for long-term outdoor use especially in unpredictable weather.
How Do I Choose A Wheelbarrow?
As we have discovered, there are a variety of points to think about before purchasing your wheelbarrow – and to make things simple, you should ask yourself the following questions:
Most people will opt for a traditional wheelbarrow for any gardening or outdoor transportation of items, however, there are some who will benefit more greatly from using a garden cart.
Garden carts are similar to wheelbarrows but have a flat bottom and side as opposed to the sloped ones we see on wheelbarrows. They usually have two or more wheels and are preferred for much larger loads. However, if you are on anything but a smooth, flat surface, they can be more difficult to operate.
That being said, for those with mobility issues a garden cart may be a wiser option since they are designed to be pulled rather than pushed and for this reason, can be easier.
We touched on the electric wheelbarrow earlier on and whilst some people would run for the hills rather than fork out for one of these, there are many who would benefit from this modern and elegant piece of gardening equipment.
Ideally suited to those who might struggle to lug their manual wheelbarrow around the garden, the electric option is easily able to navigate any type of terrain as well as having an unloading mechanism that makes dumping easier than ever.
This option may also be perfect if you are tackling a larger job with multiple loads as a way of reducing strain.
When purchasing a wheelbarrow, you need to think about what it will be used for, the size and material you require as well as the ground it will be used on. In addition, your own physical strength and limits will play a part in knowing how to choose the right wheelbarrow for you.
It also pays to be mindful of whether there is a warranty with your wheelbarrow, especially if you have chosen to purchase an electric wheelbarrow. Most companies that have produced a quality product will have no issue with including a generous warranty and this is a sure-fire sign that you can expect a long partnership with your new wheelbarrow.