A garden cart is a wagon with two or more wheels used to tote garden tools or materials, such as earth, stones, and plants. In general, garden carts offer more stability than wheelbarrows that have only a single wheel, which makes them prone to tipping under heavy loads.
We tested a variety of garden carts—both light-duty and heavy-duty models—to see if they lived up to the manufacturer’s claims. We loaded them down with the gear gardeners, landscapers, and DIYers would typically haul around. Then we took them over rough terrain and down slopes, really pushing them to their limits to deem how well they handle.
Additionally, we inspected each cart’s construction to ensure the necessary durability to withstand outdoor elements and occasional garden mishaps. Quality models are easy to maneuver and offer plenty of carrying capacity. Most will have a low center of gravity and a flat bottom for added stability. Whether you’re looking for a light-duty cart you can fold for easy storage or a beefy, self-propelled model, chances are the best garden cart for your needs will be in this lineup.
- BEST OVERALL: SuperHandy DC Li-Ion Powered Utility Service Cart
- RUNNER-UP: Worx Aerocart 8-in-1 Wheelbarrow / Yard Cart / Dolly
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Gorilla Carts 600 lb. Poly Garden Dump Cart
- BEST UTILITY: Polar Trailer Utility Cart
- BEST COLLAPSIBLE: Black+Decker Collapsible Wagon
- ALSO CONSIDER: Vivosun Heavy Duty Collapsible Folding Wagon
How We Tested the Best Garden Carts
We used similar testing procedures with all the carts to provide fair and uniform results. However, since the carts offered different functions and various load limits, we also had to adapt the tests to suit each model. We loaded each cart to the brim; although unable to weigh the contents of each load, we estimated the weight and determined whether we felt the cart could carry the manufacturer’s maximum capacity. We felt the listed maximum load was pretty close to what the cart would carry in all cases except the Gorilla Dump Cart.
We noted the ease and length of time for assembly of those carts that required being put together. We analyzed the quality of the materials and checked the essential parts, including the carts’ undercarriage, axles, wheels, and handles, for any signs of weakness. We pulled and pushed the carts (except the self-powered SuperHandy), and we noted how easy it was to maneuver them in tight spots.
As we tested, we awarded points based on a rubric; at the end of the testing, we added the points and used them to help determine the best categories and awards for each model.
Our Top Picks
We tested garden carts of various types, and to qualify for a spot in this lineup, each had to excel in its specific category. We chose the most popular carts available, both light-duty and heavy-duty. We carefully inspected them for quality, durability, and functionality. Every cart was pushed to its limits. Find out what happened in our hands-on tests, and discover both the pros and cons of each model.
The SuperHandy garden cart is a versatile self-propelled vehicle great for hauling hefty loads and cumbersome items. Plus, it could open up the world of gardening and landscaping to those who might not have the ability to push or pull a loaded-down cart. The side panels detach for use as a flatbed cart, and there’s a handle for dumping the contents. The hand controls feature a power switch and an accelerator trigger, and the cart also has the option of moving forward or in reverse.
With its solid steel undercarriage and strong, alloy steel sides and bottom, the SuperHandy was the beefiest cart on the list at 138 pounds. Like many carts, it required some assembly, but the instructions were easy to follow, and it took less than 30 minutes to put it together.
After charging the 48V lithium-ion battery pack, we installed them in the protective case and started testing. The SuperHandy was designed to haul loads up to 1,000 pounds and hold up to 500 pounds in its bed. We loaded the bed with about 400 pounds and took off—it powered along with ease. We took it over flat ground, then up and down slopes, and it chugged along smoothly.
One of the nicest features was the third wheel, set on a caster, which allowed us to swivel the cart in any direction easily, even making sharp turns with a full load. We ran the SuperHandy near-non-stop hauling firewood, and after 3.5 hours, the battery indicator was still showing a quarter of a charge. Impressive!
The oversized, pneumatic tires gripped the turf without slipping, but if we had our druthers, we’d opt for the convenience of solid rubber to keep from having to add air when tires get low. All in all, the SuperHandy proved to be an excellent garden cart for hauling heavy items, such as bricks, firewood, large potted plants, or anything else that would be too cumbersome to pull or push by hand.
- Materials: Steel
- Wheel type: Pneumatic rubber tires
- Maximum load capacity: 500 pounds (1,000 for hauling)
- Self-propelled design is easy to maneuver around the worksite or yard
- Cart swivels easily, even when loaded to its 1,000-pound capacity
Simple-to-operate controls on the handle; a linear throttle as well as a FWD/REV
- Moves heavy loads with ease; perfect for both DIY and professional use
- Some users would have preferred solid rubber tires for maximum durability
Get the SuperHandy garden cart at Amazon.
When it comes to versatility, the Worx Aerocart shines. It comes with a host of accessories, including a brace for holding lawn bags, a rock/plant mover, an in-bed organizer, and a fold-down plate for using the Aerocart as a dolly.
Assembly was straightforward, taking about 15 minutes, and right off the bat, we were impressed with the cart’s solid, no-flat tires. To test all the Aerocart’s multiple functions, we moved heavy pots using the hook-on harness, hauled a large load of firewood with the firewood sling (sold separately), and used the cart’s extendable arms to move a table saw. We also modified the cart by attaching the Aerocart Wagon Kit (sold separately), which allowed us to use the cart in four-wheel mode.
The manufacturer rates the Aerocart with a maximum 300-pound capacity, and we saw no reason to think that wouldn’t be possible, since the steel frame certainly seemed capable. We moved an estimated 200-pound load with ease.
After testing all the various functions and accessories, we decided if we could only have one moving vehicle, either a cart, a dolly, or a wheelbarrow, we’d choose the Aerocart because it serves all those functions. Plus, we could store it upright along a garage wall where it didn’t take up a lot of floor space.
- Materials: Steel frame, canvas straps
- Wheel type: Solid, plastic wheels
- Maximum load capacity: 300 pounds
- Multiple functions; can be used as a dolly, wheelbarrel, and yard cart
- No-flat wheels are suitable for long-term or heavy-duty use
- Non-slip hand grips are comfortable for the user to hold while in use
- Fold-down legs for stability and easy storage
- Dolly would be better with a strap to secure any loose items
Get the Worx garden cart at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Walmart.
The Gorilla Carts Poly Garden Dump Cart is a top all-around performer made to carry and dump soil, gravel, and mulch loads. The durable polyethylene bed won’t rust, and it’s designed not to crack or warp. Plus, it comes at an attractive price point.
We easily assembled the Gorilla cart in about 15 minutes, using a few basic tools, including a Phillips screwdriver, pliers, and an adjustable wrench. Gorilla lists this cart as having a 600-pound capacity, but after testing we found that a more realistic limit would be half that—about 300 pounds, tops. It became challenging to maneuver the front wheel axle and guide the cart with approximately 300 pounds of bricks in the bed. Despite the quick-release lever that unhooks the bed for dumping, we noticed that users would still have to physically lift the front of the bed to dump it. That gave us another reason to not pile in too much weight.
The 10-inch pneumatic tires rolled smoothly over rough ground, while a padded handle grip provided comfort and better control while pulling. Regardless of the over-ambitious capacity claim, we found this Gorilla to be a sound garden cart that offered a lot of hauling ability at a reasonable price.
- Materials: Heavy-duty plastic bed, steel frame
- Wheel type: Pneumatic
- Maximum load capacity: 600-pounds (We recommend no more than 300 pounds.)
- Rust-proof bed can withstand exposure to moisture and gardening products
- Dumping ability integrated into the design for added versatility
- Large, 10-inch tires are perfect for maneuvering on multiple terrain types
- 600 pounds can put too much pressure on front steering axle
- No automatic dumping; requires the user to lift the model manually
Get the Gorilla garden cart at Amazon, Lowe’s, or Walmart.
This Polar Trailer Utility Cart is a rugged general-purpose yard cart. It comes with a high-impact polyethylene tub, designed not to rust, crack, or warp. It’s suitable for moving gravel, firewood, and a variety of garden supplies and tools. Its 10-cubic-foot bed also has ample room for hauling yard debris, such as fallen leaves and twigs.
When we unboxed the Polar Trailer Utility Cart, the first thing we noticed was its extra-large, 20-inch wheels. These were the most oversized wheels, by far, of any of the carts we tested, and they made it easy to maneuver the cart—even when it was fully loaded.
Our favorite part of this cart was the wheels and tires, but we wished they would have been coated to resist rust and corrosion, since we discovered a bit of rust on the wheel rims after leaving the cart out in the rain. We would recommend storing this cart in a garage or shed rather than leaving it exposed to the elements.
We found that this all-around solid cart was well-suited to hauling hefty loads up to 400 pounds. We probably had almost 300 pounds on it at one point, and the weight didn’t seem to wobble the handling in the least. Its leg supports were solid and sturdy, and the bar handle gave us the ability to grip it where it felt best for our purposes, rather than having to grasp individual handles. Assembly was straightforward and took no more than 15 minutes.
- Materials: Steel frame, high-impact polyethylene tub
- Wheel type: 20-inch, solid rubber spoked wheels
- Maximum load capacity: 400 pounds
- Large, 20-inch wheels are built for easy maneuvering
- Ample room in tub for tools, plants, accessories, and more
- Easy to guide and dump; ergonomic design is built for maximum user comfort
- Some users have reported that the wheel rims rusted after exposure to rain
Get the Polar Trailer garden cart at The Home Depot, Tractor Supply Co., or Omni Outdoor Living.
The Black+Decker makes an excellent garden cart where storage space comes at a premium. It is lightweight, durable, and offers plenty of carrying capacity. It holds up to 176 pounds and folds down to just 7 inches thick for easy storage.Plus, it comes with solid tires that won’t go flat, and it features two handy beverage holders on the front.
When the Black+Decker cart arrived, we were surprised that the package was so small—about 10 inches by 10 inches by 25 inches—because we’d been receiving much larger and heavier packages. However, when we unboxed the cart, we were pleased to find high-quality canvas fitted on a collapsible steel frame.
The Black+Decker cart folded out with just a pull on its two end frames and formed a decently sized canvas bed measuring 31 inches long, 21 inches wide, and 22 inches high. The telescoping handle extended to 38 inches, which allowed us to pull the cart without bending. The handle controlled the front axle and wheels, which made it simple to turn the cart and maneuver it in tight spots.
We found the canvas bed to be surprisingly strong, and while we didn’t test whether it would stand up to the manufacturer’s claim of holding 176 pounds, we did load it with over 100 pounds, and it still pulled smoothly.
This is a light-duty cart—it’s not designed for carrying heavy and/or sharp objects that might poke through the canvas, such as sharpshooter shovels or chainsaws with sharp blades. Still, it’s a great option for pulling around standard gardening hand tools, plants, potting soil, and supplies.
- Materials: Steel frame, canvas bed
- Wheel type: Solid plastic, 7-inch tires
- Maximum load capacity: 176 pounds
- Heavy-duty canvas bed is ideal for light- to medium-duty gardening tasks
- Telescoping handle provides added user-friendliness and adjustability
- Collapsible design allows for easy storage in the off-season
- Only suitable for light-duty use; may not be ideal for some users’ preferences
Get the Black+Decker garden cart at Amazon.
Those looking for a garden cart that folds for easy storage yet holds a good amount of dry leaves or other types of yard debris might want to check out the Vivosun Heavy Duty Collapsible Folding Wagon. It features 7-inch, hard wheels with ball-bearing assembly for smoother movement. When unfolded, the bed measures 36 inches by 22 inches by 15 inches, offering ample room for hauling away yard waste or carrying plants and gardening supplies.
Like the other collapsible cart we tested, the Vivosun came folded up—and in a handy tote bag—but was easy to expand by pulling the front and back of the steel frame apart. We also noticed that the ball-bearing assembly made for easy rolling. The front axle also swiveled easily when we moved the telescoping handle from side to side, making the cart easy to turn and maneuver. However, the somewhat thin handle could have been sturdier.
Product specs stated that the canvas bed holds up to 176 pounds. While we deemed that fairly accurate, we would recommend spreading the weight over the entire bed rather than carrying a single heavy object that might poke through the canvas.
This Vivosun also featured a thin, flat cushion that fits inside the bottom, but after easily feeling the bottom steel bars underneath, we decided that the cushion doesn’t provide enough padding for a child to ride in. Just for fun, we did haul a cat around because he jumped in and refused to get out. The cat, at least, approved! As far as we could tell, the cushion seemed to be mainly for aesthetic purposes.
In addition to use as a garden cart, this foldable model would be well-suited for grocery shopping, where the user could fill it with groceries, pull it to the car, and then fold it up and carry it in the trunk.
- Materials: Metal frame, canvas bed
- Wheel type: 7-inch, solid tires
- Maximum load capacity: 176 pounds
- Large capacity canvas bed is ideal for maneuvering multiple tools, accessories, plants, and more
- Folds to compact size for easy storing or transporting
- Telescoping handle and smooth steering for ample versatility
- Slightly wimpy handle compared to similar options; may not withstand heavy-duty use
Get the Vivosun garden cart at Amazon or Walmart.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Garden Cart
When shopping for a garden cart, look for rugged materials such as a heavy-gauge steel frame, powder-coating to resist corrosion, and ultraviolet-protected plastic. Also, factor in how much weight the cart can carry. It’s typically better to err on the side of caution and overestimate the weight capacity needed.
Types of Garden Carts
Garden carts come in different shapes and sizes, each type suited to a particular kind of work. Below are descriptions of six basic types of garden carts and the tasks for which they are best suited.
A utility wagon is a general-purpose, heavy-duty garden cart. Use it to haul anything from tools and plants to bricks, soil, and garden debris. Utility wagons may operate manually, include an electric motor, or attach to a riding lawnmower. They may have a fixed bed and sides, or they may feature a dump bed that tilts to empty its contents. Some feature removable sides to convert into a flatbed for oversize loads.
Dump carts are four-wheel carts with hinged beds that tilt independently of the frame, like a dump truck. They are designed to make it easier to unload large quantities of bulk material like soil, leaves, weeds, and garden debris. Smooth plastic dump beds empty cleanly, without snagging on branches or other fine material. Metal mesh dump beds work well for larger items like rocks or firewood.
Flatbed carts are basically flat platforms on wheels, though some convertible utility carts have side panels that may be removed to function as flatbeds. Flatbeds make for easy removal of loads like bagged soil or trays of plants because such supplies simply slide on and off without dealing with the obstacles of raised sides. Flatbeds also allow the user to load oversize items like lumber or fence posts.
Foldable carts are helpful for those who only need a cart occasionally or those with little storage space because they conveniently store away in small spaces. Like other quality garden carts, the best foldable models are made of tough, lightweight materials. Most foldable carts are in the light-duty category.
Electric carts are self-propelled, walk-behind carts with power, forward/reverse, and speed controls located on the handgrip. They provide added power to move heavier loads, and some include either powered or manual dump beds. The electric motor runs on rechargeable batteries that last between 45 minutes and 3 hours per charge.
A hand trolley, or hand truck, is an upright two-wheel cart that is used for heavy loads and precise placement. Some include a secondary set of wheels or casters on the back that help move bulky items across paved surfaces. Gardeners tend to use a hand trolley to move large trees or landscape boulders into place. Hand trolleys are also useful in the garage or workshop for moving large crates and appliances.
Light-duty carts may be made entirely of plastic or a combination of plastic and steel and be capable of carrying up to 200 pounds across reasonably smooth terrain. Many plastics are susceptible to damage from temperature extremes and long-term sun exposure, so carts made of this material should be stored in a garage or shed when not in use.
The strongest carts have steel frames and rubber tires. These materials perform well in all types of weather but require some maintenance. Wipe steel components clean after use and repaint scratches to avoid rust. Grease the wheels regularly and keep tires properly inflated for best performance.
Steel-framed carts are matched with either steel or polycarbonate beds. Both materials are strong and durable, but poly weighs less, resists dents and scratches, and is UV protected.
Light-duty garden carts have weight capacities of 200 pounds or less. These carts are suitable for hauling limited quantities of soil, mulch, plants, and/or garden tools. Heavy-duty carts with capacities of 350 to 500 pounds are a good choice for hauling rocks, bricks, and bags of concrete. Two-wheeled hand trucks with a weight capacity of 750 pounds or more are best for positioning large trees or moving heavy materials, such as cords of firewood and landscape boulders.
Note that a cart’s capacity refers to its load weight, which is different from its hauling weight (also called pulling weight). Hauling weight indicates the power the vehicle is capable of generating when pulling a load on a wheeled trailer. For example, a motorized cart designed to hold up to 500 pounds in its bed may be capable of pulling a load up to 1,000 pounds.
Wagon vs. Cart vs. Trolley
Traditionally, a wagon refers to a vehicle with four wheels and a single handle at the front, a design that intends for it to be pulled. A cart has two wheels and one or two handles, either at the front or the rear; depending on the design, it’s built to be either pushed or pulled. In the U.S., a trolley means a streetcar, but in other countries, this term could refer to either a small wagon or a cart. Despite differences in word origins, American gardeners and tool makers now use the terms wagon and cart somewhat interchangeably. For our testing purposes, both two- and four-wheel devices are referred to as carts.
Whether on a wagon, pull cart, pushcart, or hand truck, the handle should be comfortable and functional. For long days working in the garden, a thick handle with a cushioned grip is helpful. A 1.25- to 1.5-inch-diameter handle is about the right thickness for most gardeners to maximize grip and control, and minimize hand fatigue. A rubberized grip adds traction and cushion for control and comfort.
The handle position should be high enough to push or pull comfortably. Users should not have to operate the cart while bent over or lifting extra high on the handles, nor should the user be at risk of kicking the cart while operating. When the cart is not in motion, the handle should rest in a safe position. As an example, some four-wheel wagons feature handles with a bent shaft so it can rest in an upright position against the front of the wagon when not in use. Straight, shafted handles easily fall down and can create a tripping hazard.
Tire Type and Number
Garden cart tires may be pneumatic, flat-free, or plastic. Pneumatic (i.e., inflatable) tires give a cushioned ride over uneven terrain. The smooth ride and large diameter make it easier to push or pull heavy loads through the landscape.
Flat-free tires appear similar to pneumatic tires but they are made of solid rubber. The benefit is that they never puncture or get soft, but the ride is not as smooth. They suit situations and terrain similar to those pneumatic tires are useful in.
Plastic wheels are used on light-duty garden carts and work best on paved surfaces and smooth lawns. Like flat-free tires, they are convenient and low maintenance, but plastic is subject to cracking and warping in extreme temperatures.
Garden carts may have two, three, or four wheels. Two-wheel carts offer easy steering, whether pulled or pushed because they can pivot without moving forward or backward. Four-wheel pull carts have a fixed axle in the rear and a steering axle in the front, connected to the pull handle. Four-wheel pushcarts use two independent swivel wheels instead of a steering axle. Four-wheel carts are less articulate but more stable than two-wheelers.
Most three-wheel carts are electric. They have a powered drive axle for the two front wheels and a rear swivel wheel centered near the back to allow for steering. They have steering ability and stability comparable to four-wheelers.
Manual vs. Electric
Most garden carts are manually operated—users push or pull them where needed. But electric carts are becoming more popular to assist on heavy projects, and they are well suited for gardeners with less strength or stamina. The electric motor drives the wheels and, in some cases, raises a dump bed.
Electric carts use rechargeable lithium-ion batteries to power their motors. Run time per charge averages about 3 hours, typically adequate for most users to work all day. Electric carts vary in travel speeds and performance on difficult terrain. They may or may not include a braking system.
Electric carts and motor-assisted wheelbarrows can help gardeners with limited mobility, strength, and/or stamina. They use rechargeable batteries that mostly offer about 3 hours of run time per charge, depending on the weight of the load and the slope of the terrain. Sealed lead-acid (SLA) and lithium-ion are commonly available battery types, both offering fast recharge times, long run times, and full power throughout the life of the charge.
Versatility is an important consideration because while a garden cart might be purchased for a specific upcoming project, other potential uses may pop up in the future. Hauling soil or mulch requires bulk volume, while moving a large tree may require greater mobility or precision.
A cart’s versatility is often equal to its capability. A cart that can go over rough terrain (pneumatic tires), with a heavier load (steel frame), and unload easily (dump cart) is more versatile than a cart without these features.
The Advantages of Owning a Garden Cart
A garden cart is handy for more than hauling tools and supplies. It can function as a mobile gardening workstation, holding large and small tools and even a trash can. It conveniently carries garden supplies and equipment to the project site and hauls debris away.
Garden carts have a low center of gravity for stability that resists tipping while loaded. The cart is a convenient place to temporarily hold soil while digging planting holes, rather than covering up the grass or staining the sidewalk. The low stance makes it convenient to load and unload heavy items like bagged soils, landscape boulders, or large trees. A garden cart can help with just about any yard work.
- A garden cart lets you keep gardening tools and supplies close by as you move around the yard.
- A garden cart lets you haul loads of between 200 and 1,200 pounds or more.
- A garden cart can help those with limited strength, mobility, or stamina continue doing yard work.
If you still want more info about purchasing or using a garden cart, read on for answers to some commonly asked questions.
Q. What is a garden cart?
A garden cart is a two- or four-wheel vehicle that gardeners use to carry tools and supplies around the yard.
Q. What is the difference between a wheelbarrow and a garden cart?
A wheelbarrow is shaped like a half-barrel with one or two wheels in the front and two straight handles in the back. Its shape, with high sloping sides and a small tilted bottom, is best suited for hauling and dumping bulk material. A garden cart typically has between two and four wheels and a low center of gravity. Garden carts often have low, vertical sides and wide flat bottoms. They are used for all types of hauling, from tools and equipment to bagged soils, plants, and more.
Q. Do I need a garden cart?
Gardeners often find their garden cart to be more useful than their wheelbarrow. There are various types of garden carts that are suited to different kinds of hauling, including some that are motorized.