If you spend a good amount of time gardening or landscaping, a dependable and capable wheelbarrow can help lessen your load. While these humble helpers may 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 the strain of concrete-mixing in its tub. We put these carts through the paces during 2 days of yard work to see just how worthy they are. If you’re in the market for one, read on to learn what to look for when shopping, and find out how these wheelbarrows performed for real yard and garden tasks.
- BEST OVERALL: Gorilla Carts 4-cu ft Poly Yard Cart
- BEST BASIC: Best Choice Products Dual-Wheel Wheelbarrow
- BEST HEAVY DUTY: Makita XUC01X1 Brushless Power-Assisted Wheelbarrow
- MOST VERSATILE: WORX WG050 Aerocart 8-in-1 Yard Cart
- BEST FOR GARDENING: Rubbermaid Commercial Products Yard Cart 7.5 cu. ft.
- BEST FOR HEAVY LOADS: Gorilla Carts 7 cu. ft. Poly Yard Dump Cart
- BEST GARDEN CART: HEMBOR Collapsible Outdoor Utility Wagon
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Wheelbarrow
Though it’s easy to assume that all wheelbarrows perform similarly, a number of factors affect their functionality. The best wheelbarrows are easy to maneuver while having a sturdy enough build to maintain the desired load capacities of soil or rocks needed to get jobs done. Keep reading to learn about some of the most important qualities to consider when shopping for the best wheelbarrow.
There are several different styles of wheelbarrows. Each has its benefits, and some types will work better for specific garden tasks than others.
- Traditional: The traditional wheelbarrow design has a single wheel in the front and two steel legs in the rear to balance the tool. This design works well for maneuvering and dumping lightweight loads, but it can be prone to tipping over under heavier loads.
- Two-wheel: Wheelbarrows with a two-wheel design—one on either side of the front of the tub—offer additional tip resistance. However, these models are more difficult to pivot sharply, like when pushing the wheelbarrow down a winding path or backing up and going in a different direction.
- Motorized: Motorized wheelbarrows use either gas or electric power to reduce the effort required to push them. They typically feature multiple wheels and speed functions.
- Collapsible: Collapsible wheelbarrows feature a fabric trough—rather than a plastic or steel tub—making them lightweight and easy to push. They fold up for compact storage and some can even be hung in a garage or garden shed.
The best wheelbarrow won’t be worth much in a yard if it can’t tote a load, so one of the first considerations may be the tub capacity, measured in cubic feet. Though tubs can have anywhere from 2.5 to 10 cubic feet of space, most gardeners need only about 4 to 6 cubic feet to haul compost, soil, or garden supplies.
Larger tubs make it possible to haul bigger loads, but they’re usually heavier and harder to push, so it’s best to get the size that accommodates the expected needs. One notable exception: If planning to mix a bag of concrete, at least a 7-cubic-foot capacity is needed to keep the concrete from sloshing out while preparing it.
Weight and Load Capacity
Plastic wheelbarrows with steel frames can weigh as little as 15 pounds, while empty all-steel models can tip the scales at 65 pounds. An empty weight of around 20 to 40 pounds usually offers a maximum weight load ranging from 90 to 150 pounds, which is more than enough for most common yard tasks, such as hauling mulch and soil or moving multiple cans of paint.
Weight capacities also vary widely depending on the type of wheelbarrow chosen. For example, compact folding wheelbarrows may be capable of carrying only 50 pounds of weight, while electric wheelbarrows have weight capacities as high as 600 pounds. Also at the heavier end, contractor-type and heavy-duty wheelbarrows are suited to carrying heavy loads up to 300 pounds. Some of the lighter-weight versions can only haul about 60 pounds.
Steel vs. Plastic
The tubs on today’s wheelbarrows are 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 they cost more than similar-size models with molded plastic tubs. A steel frame is also heavier than plastic, and the added weight can make a fully loaded wheelbarrow harder to push.
Let the intended usage be the guide. If it’s only needed to move lightweight loads, a molded plastic tub may be sufficient. If there are heavy materials to move or mixing concrete is on the to-do list, consider a steel wheelbarrow, as plastic ones are more likely to crack under heavy weight.
Tires can make a difference in how a wheelbarrow performs, especially after it’s loaded or when crossing rough terrain. Wheelbarrow tires are either solid, made of rubber or plastic, or inflatable—much like those on a car or bicycle.
Inflatable tires—also known as pneumatic tires—offer a bit of cushion. This cushion can keep the wheelbarrow from bouncing around, but if one goes flat, it will need air (with a bicycle pump) or a repair with a patch kit. If the desire is to have a maintenance-free model, solid rubber tires are a more fitting choice.
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 lacking 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 allow lifting and steering 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 include cushioned grips that cut down on blisters and hand fatigue as well.
Some wheelbarrows may come equipped with additional features that offer increased maneuverability, comfort, and convenience.
- A beverage holder allows for keeping a water bottle handy to help the user stay hydrated while working.
- A cell phone holder provides a place to keep a phone close at hand.
- A tray provides a handy spot to keep gardening tools.
- Fold-down dolly shelves let the wheelbarrow do double duty for transporting boxes or even appliances.
- Elevated tires are useful for navigating rough or uneven terrain.
- LED lights may be included on motorized wheelbarrows and help illuminate a work area.
Our Top Picks
Now that you’ve learned more about wheelbarrows, it’s time to start shopping. The following are some of the top picks for the best wheelbarrows for a yard or garden. These recommendations were selected because of their quality construction, capacity, ease of use, and other helpful features.
We field-tested eight wheelbarrows and garden carts with some of the best online reviews to see how they would perform in action. Whether you’re looking for a plastic or metal model, or you’re shopping for an electric version to speed up landscaping tasks, there’s sure to be a good solution here to help with most every gardening need.
A combination of high weight capacity, easy one-handed operation, and excellent stability set the Gorilla Carts 4-cu ft Poly Yard Cart apart from the competition. Loaded with mulch or concrete blocks, its wide wheelbase and pneumatic tires rolled through our terrain test with ease. The articulating front wheels and bent shaft handle made it easy to accomplish a 90-degree turn without coming to a complete stop. And the tall frame offered ample ground clearance without losing stability.
We also liked the simple, effective dump-bed feature. It was not too heavy to control with a full load of mulch, thanks to a well-balanced pivot point. The spring-loaded bed latch worked smoothly by simply lifting up on the handle. Another exceptional point is that the bed height was just right for sitting when we placed a board across the top.
Because of the structural ridges in the base and vertical sides of the poly bed, thoroughly mixing a batch of potting soil or concrete would be difficult. And if you’re trying to navigate a narrow garden path, the wide wheel base might be a bit too much. But for most yard and garden tasks, this cart excels.
- Number of wheels: 4
- Volume: 4 cubic feet
- Weight capacity: 600 pounds
- Volume and capacity similar to conventional wheelbarrow
- Extremely stable
- Single-hand operation
- Convenient height for loading, dump bed for unloading
- Heavy loads may require partial hand-unloading
- Poly material flexes somewhat with heavier/harder materials
- Bed not shaped well for mixing concrete, etc.
At a glance, this Best Choice Products Dual-Wheel Wheelbarrow appears almost puny. It has a lightweight plastic bed and a tubular steel frame that belies the actual ability of the wheelbarrow. In reality, this wheelbarrow admirably held its own through our terrain test, including the hill portions. We pushed it and pulled it up and down a 30-degree slope while loaded to capacity with soil and stone and had zero complaints. The large pneumatic tires and long loop handle are the keys to its successful design.
We also liked the low, squatty shape of the cart. It makes for easy loading and dumping. Plus, the traditional wheelbarrow-shaped bed would be easy for mixing up a batch of concrete or home-recipe potting soil. The foam-cushioned grip made for more comfortable, less slippery work.
The listed weight capacity of 330 pounds seems a bit exaggerated due to the thin-gauge steel frame and plastic bed, but to be fair, our tests didn’t uncover a weakness. Assembly could have been easier; the tires did not come pre-inflated, and the bolts had wide slotted screw heads instead of hex heads, which would have been easier to grip. In general this is a pretty versatile cart capable of working harder than it appears.
- Number of wheels: 2
- Volume: 5 cubic feet
- Weight capacity: 330
- Lightweight design
- Low profile, easy to load and dump
- Surprisingly capable
- Comfortable foam grip on handle
- Looks and feels weaker than it actually is
- Assembly was harder than necessary
- Hollow steel axle may weaken over time
Makita’s power-assisted motorized wheelbarrow lightened our loads by doing some of the hard work. On both flat and upward-sloping ground, the electric motor pulled full loads of mulch and concrete blocks at a comfortable walking pace with no hesitation. On the downhills, the handbrake significantly improved control compared with freewheeling with only operator muscle to slow down. Sand, gravel, and branches presented no problems.
The kit came in two boxes, one with the motorized frame, handlebars, rear swivel casters, and optional rear stationary legs; and the other with the bin. The steel bin is built just like a conventional wheelbarrow bin. The motor, battery pack, brakes, and LED headlights came preassembled, so we only needed to put the body and bin together. Assembly was no more difficult than the others we tested; it took about 45 minutes using common hand tools. Batteries are sold separately.
With the rear swivel casters attached, heavy loads were stable and easy to move, although moving in reverse was slightly less stable. Using the rear stationary legs, the operator lifts up the handles to travel, as with a regular wheelbarrow. This setup worked better for narrow pathways and articulate turns. But it was a bit more challenging with a heavy load because the handles are about 6 inches shorter than those of a regular wheelbarrow, so the operator has less lifting leverage.
- Number of wheels: 1 or 3
- Volume: 3 cubic feet
- Weight capacity: 290 pounds
- Reduces work strain over rough terrain
- Quiet, efficient brushless motor
- Durable construction
- Handbrake for downhill control
- Small bin capacity
- Requires generous storage space
- Short handles reduce operator leverage with single wheel
Admittedly, our wheelbarrow-testing regimen only scratched the surface of what the Aerocart can do, so we decided to take it a bit further. On the regular test, the WORX product performed well. We easily pushed it uphill, downhill, and across numerous surfaces while loaded with soil and concrete blocks.
The volume is smaller than average, which made up for the fact that the solid rubber dolly-type wheels would otherwise have dug into the sand. As a wheelbarrow, it is mostly limited to smaller, but not necessarily light duty, jobs. It feels well built, with a steel frame and bin, and assembly was the easiest of all that we tested.
What sets this cart apart is the number of peripheral jobs it accommodates. We moved the wheels into the hand-truck configuration to try out other features. The hand truck would be super helpful around the house or garage. We used it with the included propane cylinder mover, leaf bag holder, potted plant mover, and boulder mover (which moved a stump for us). It worked as well or better than a conventional wheelbarrow or hand truck for each of those tasks.
- Number of wheels: 2
- Volume: 3 cubic feet
- Weight capacity: 300 pounds
- Space-saving design, easy to store
- Compact but strong steel frame and bin
- Numerous practical attachments for common household tasks
- Hard wheels do not absorb impact well
- Volume is smaller than most wheelbarrows
- Lots of moving parts and adapters to store
Just looking at this wheelbarrow, we could see it is built for transporting bulk material. It holds more than a quarter of a cubic yard, so filling it up with a shovel took some time. When it was fully loaded, we rolled it through our obstacle course, and it performed well, although it was heavy on the uphill. The hard wheels only bogged down slightly in the sand.
The shape is perfect for dumping. Loading and unloading blocks was cumbersome due to the depth of the bin and the slopes of the front and rear walls.
We felt like this would be an excellent choice for anyone who hauls lots of loose material such as compost, mulch, weeds, or sticks. It also would be suitable for mixing a batch of potting soil or concrete because of the smooth tub base and sloped ends. However, the large volume and thin wheels could lead to problems with overloading if you don’t monitor weight.
- Number of wheels: 2
- Volume: 7.5 cubic feet
- Weight capacity: 300 pounds
- Balanced for easy push or pull operation while full
- Large, solid wheels roll easily over uneven terrain
- Largest volume of all carts we tested
- Requires a large storage space
- Wheels do not absorb shock or ruts like inflatable tires
- Too large and heavy for small routine tasks
The Gorilla Cart GCG-7 was the best for hauling concrete blocks of all the carts we tested. It performed well in all phases of our obstacle course, which we ran twice, the first time using the padded grip handle to pull it through. The second time, we removed the handle and attached it to the tow hitch on the riding mower. The cart demonstrated excellent stability throughout. A heavy load of mulch was easy to dump thanks to the well-placed bed pivot point.
This could be an excellent choice for larger properties, even if you need to haul more than just garden supplies. The rigid, flat-bottomed poly bed and heavy-duty steel frame could easily carry firewood, a generator, or building supplies.
- Number of wheels: 4
- Volume: 7 cubic feet
- Weight capacity: 1,200 pounds
- Converts to a trailer for towing behind a riding mower
- Large inflatable tires roll easily over rough ground
- Wide, stable design
- One-handed control dump bed
- Difficult to steer in reverse while towing
- High bed is more difficult to load with a shovel
- Large size requires large storage space
We also tested the HEMBOR Collapsible Outdoor Utility Wagon. A collapsible model comes in handy if you only need to haul garden items a couple of times each year, or if a home is short on storage space. This one is a multipurpose utility wagon that works just as well for carrying beach supplies as it does for weeding the garden. With an iron and steel frame and a tub made from Oxford cloth, it’s durable and waterproof.
Despite that, this is not suitable for many wheelbarrow functions such as hauling and dumping bulky or heavy material. Still, if you are short on space and just need to haul weeds and light materials, this wagon can come in handy.
When collapsed, the wagon measures just 30 inches tall by 20 inches wide by 8 inches deep for compact storage. Seven cupholders work well for storing water bottles or portable coffee mugs for early morning gardening sessions.
- Number of wheels: 4
- Volume: 4 cubic feet
- Weight capacity: 150 pounds
- Easy to fold/unfold
- Lightweight choice for carrying tools, drinks, and bagged goods
- Sturdy nylon liner
- Not suitable for loose bulk material
- Not suitable for heavy loads
- Not suitable for rough ground
Our top picks had to demonstrate the qualities that everyone looks for in a wheelbarrow: ease of loading, carrying, and dumping bulk material. We chose this Gorilla Cart as Best Overall because of its ease of use, excellent stability, and ideal sizing (not too big or too small) for most users. We also really appreciated the high quality-to-price ratio of our Best Basic pick, the Best Choice Products Dual-Wheel Wheelbarrow.
How We Tested the Best Wheelbarrows
To provide a useful review, we put the wheelbarrows through their paces. After loading them to capacity with mulch or soil, we pushed and pulled each wheelbarrow through an obstacle course consisting of varying terrain and a 90-degree turn in each direction. Obstacles included grass, sand, and gravel surfaces; loose branches; and sloped ground. Then we dumped the first load, stacked concrete blocks on the cart, and took it through the course again.
After considering the cart’s overall size, empty weight, volume, and weight capacity, we rated each according to its ability to navigate the course. We noted ease of loading and dumping, traveling stability, performance over difficult terrain, and maneuverability on turns.
Though you now know more about wheelbarrows, you might have new or lingering questions about how to select one or how to safely use them. The following are answers to some of the most common questions about how to select and maintain a wheelbarrow.
Q. How heavy is an empty wheelbarrow?
Wheelbarrow weights vary widely depending on the type, ranging from 10 to 350 pounds.
Q. What size wheelbarrow do I need?
When shopping for a wheelbarrow, consider its tub capacity. A capacity of 4 to 6 cubic feet is usually sufficient for most home gardeners.
Q. Which is better, a plastic or metal wheelbarrow?
Plastic and metal wheelbarrows both have their advantages. Metal models are typically more durable and can carry heavier loads, but they’re usually heavier. Plastic models are lightweight, making them easier to maneuver.