Buyer’s Guide: Wheelbarrows

Find the best wheelbarrow for yard work like hauling away weeds, mulch, or concrete—with this list of our top-favorite recommendations.

The Best Wheelbarrow, According to DIYers

Photo: istockphoto.com

If you spend a good amount of time gardening or landscaping, a good wheelbarrow can lessen your load. While these humble helpers may all look pretty similar to one another, they’re not all designed to accomplish the same tasks. 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 consult our list of top-favorite options:

  1. BEST OVERALL: WORX All-Purpose Aerocart Wheelbarrow
  2. EASIEST TO USE: Best Choice Products Dual-Wheel Home Wheelbarrow
  3. BEST FOR KIDS: Seymour WB-JR Poly Tray Lightweight Childrens Size Wheelbarrow
The Best Wheelbarrow, According to DIYers

Photo: istockphoto.com

Choosing the Right Wheelbarrow

Tub Capacity

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 shoppers 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.

Tires

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.

Weight

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. 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.

Handles

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.

Additional Features

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.

Our Top Picks

Best Dual-Use Wheelbarrow: Worx

Photo: amazon.com

1. BEST OVERALL: 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.

Best Single-Bar Handle Wheelbarrow: Marathon

Photo: amazon.com

2. EASIEST TO USE: Best Choice Products Dual-Wheel Home Wheelbarrow

If you need a medium-size wheelbarrow that’s easy to push and pull in comfort, look no further than the Best Choice Products Dual-Wheel Home Wheelbarrow. Its molded-plastic tub securely holds your load while its two inflatable rubber wheels offer cushioning to prevent bouncing over uneven terrain. The single-bar handle has a cushioned grip to reduce hand fatigue and at 26 pounds, it’s lightweight enough to maneuver yet heavy enough to offer load stability.

Best Wheelbarrow for Little DIYers in Training: Seymour

Photo: amazon.com

3. BEST FOR KIDS: Seymour WB-JR Poly Tray Lightweight Childrens Size 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.