A wheelbarrow is an outdoor tool that can help you efficiently move bulky items like mulch, plant beds, or cinder blocks around your property. A good wheelbarrow or garden cart can be an essential gardening tool.
The best wheelbarrow will hold everything you want to move without wobbling or wobbling, has sturdy tires that roll smoothly, and can push through sand and gravel without getting stuck, even when fully loaded.
After testing the best wheelbarrows on the market during the New England spring,… A real temperamental wheelbarrow
(Available at Home Depot for $139.00)
It emerged as the best overall for being paired with a sturdy metal tray and comfortable handles with smooth rolling. It also has great control for transporting heavy loads up and down slopes, making it an excellent traditional wheelbarrow.
For a lightweight wheelbarrow that’s easy to maneuver for small loads, the Greenyard Rover Marathon (Available on Amazon) is our choice for best value. However, there are many great wheelbarrows in our guide that will meet your needs.
Other wheelbarrows we tested
How we tested wheelbarrows
I’m Meg Mockenhaupt, garden writer and reviewer. I have been digging yards for over 20 years, and along the way, I co-founded a community farm and earned a degree in field botany.
I’ve grown everything from radishes to rosemary from seed, and although I’m working on putting more native plants into my garden, I have a weakness for David Austin roses. My idea for a fun day is moving compost around my garden and rearranging the rocks.
We tested 10 different heavyweight, lightweight and folding wheelbarrows and garden carts. There were no electric rickshaws here, they were all manual.
First, the barrows and carts that arrived were assembled in parts according to each manufacturer’s instructions. Air-filled (pneumatic) tires were checked for tire pressure and inflated as recommended. Each model was then placed on an obstacle course unloaded, loaded with mulch, and loaded with 16 bricks (weighing 80 pounds).
The obstacle course involves going up and down, over a slope covered with groundcover (Pachysandra) and branches ranging from 1/4 to 3 inches in diameter, through a pile of sand, around a 1-foot curve, through gravel, uphill and beyond. 8 inch step with overhang flange. After the obstacle course, wheelbarrows were run over a bundle of thorny rose canes while loaded with bricks.
The wheelbarrows and carts with inflatable tires were then re-examined at the end of the test.
What you should know about buying wheelbarrows
The right type of wheelbarrow for your garden depends on how you use it and where you store it. Key factors include the number of wheels, frame material, drawer capacity and material, and handles.
Wheels can be single or in pairs. (We also tested four-wheeled versions with flat beds, commonly called garden carts.) The trade-off is maneuverability versus stability. A single-wheel wheelbarrow can go around tight curves, but it can feel unwieldy with heavy loads and can sink into soft soil.
Four-wheeled strollers are more stable but cannot navigate corners as easily and are more difficult to get rid of. Two-wheeled wheelbarrows are a compromise, offering better maneuverability than four-wheeled wheelbarrows and greater stability than single-wheeled wheelbarrows.
Tires can be air-filled (also known as pneumatic), hard plastic, or “flatless” hard rubber. Air-filled tires are best for towing heavy loads on uneven ground or on stairs. The air acts as a cushion, reducing the effort needed to push the wheelbarrow forward and allowing the wheelbarrow to jump over obstacles. Unfortunately, overfilled tires can go flat and usually require inflating at home; Be careful when inflating them at gas station air pumps, which can fill small tires too quickly.
Most “run-flat” tires are solid rubber that is somewhat soft. They provide most of the benefits of air-filled tires without the maintenance. Hard plastic frames have no advantages. Because they can’t flatten or jump over obstacles, you’ll feel every rock or branch in your path as you push them — and pushing them will take more effort than wheelbarrows with air-filled or run-flat tires.
Tray capacity is a challenge because the wheelbarrow trays are not square. The angle at the end of the “nose” means that the capacity in cubic feet is not square. If you’re moving something cubic, like straw bales, you won’t be able to use all the space in the tray, and you’ll only be able to fit as many seedlings from the garden store as will fit on the flat bottom of the tray, not the entire length of the tray with the nose.
If you’re concerned about fitting a particular type of item in your wheelbarrow, look at the size of the wheelbarrow’s base and the height of the sides, not the number of cubic feet it holds.
It is also important to consider the weight capacities of wheelbarrow models which can range from 300 to 600 pounds.
Wheelbarrow trays are made of coated steel or plastic. Steel wheelbarrow trays are heavier, although this doesn’t really matter unless you’ll be lifting your wheelbarrow into a car or onto a wall rack for storage.
Steel wheelbarrows will rust if left outside because the paint will scratch easily with daily use. However, steel frame trays are sturdy and should not bend under heavy loads. Our sample included stamped steel trays suitable for home use. If you need a heavy-duty wheelbarrow, look for folded steel trays that are thicker, heavier, and more durable.
Plastic wheelbarrow trays are lightweight and rust-resistant, but consumer reviews complain that they bend and collapse under loads of heavy, dense materials such as gravel.
Some folding wheelbarrows and garden carts have trays made of nylon or fabric. It is very lightweight but not durable at all. Only choose these carts if you are very short on storage space, or you only plan to use your cart for lightweight loads.
Wheelbarrows usually have two handles made of metal or wood, or a loop handle made of metal. Two-handle models are easier to use for people of different heights. The lightweight loop handles make it possible to store the bar by hanging it, but may be more difficult for short or tall users. Wooden handles can also be rough and fall off with splinters if they are made of unfinished wood.