The classic wheelbarrow has one wheel that’s positioned front and center of a tray or bed with handles to give you the ability to lift and maneuver heavy loads. Folding wheelbarrows are usually single-wheel designs, with canvas fabric hung between two bars that serve as the handles. Two wheels give you greater stability to lift hefty loads or loads where the weight isn’t equally distributed, but they’re not as easy to turn and harder to push uphill. A wheelbarrow with four wheels gives you the best stability and can move much heavier and bulkier loads, but it can be tough to maneuver in tight spaces and on uneven terrain. Choosing the type of wheelbarrow that you need will require you to assess the trade-offs between weight capacity, stability, and maneuverability based on what you want it to do in your garden.
Buying Guide for Wheelbarrows
Why buy a wheelbarrow?
Have you ever spent an hour or more raking fallen leaves from the lawn into a huge, fun pile, only to realize that you have no way to remove them? You could pull up a pickup truck with a bed, but maybe you don’t have one or you don’t want to leave tire tracks on the lawn. Back pain or arthritis can make a gardening chore much more strenuous if you don’t have a tool to remove old soil or dead plants from the garden. It really stinks to have to bend over, grab an armful, and then walk it over to the compost, and then walk back and repeat. These are valid reasons for buying a wheelbarrow. And sometimes, there’s no way that you can get by without one. Again, a truck bed could work, but if you’re moving mulch, dirt, or rocks, you have to lift your shovelful up, probably above your hip line, to throw it in the truck. Not so safe! If you could move that heavy shovelful straight into a wheelbarrow, it would save you time and pain!
What should you look for in a wheelbarrow?
- Bed: The bed, sometimes called a pan or tray, is where the load is placed. Its capacity is the volume of material that it can hold, which is measured in cubic feet. Beds are made of steel, plastic, fabric, or wood. Fabric, used in folding designs, is lightweight. Metal has the advantage of durability, while plastic and wood beds don’t rust. And don’t forget to check the wheelbarrow’s weight capacity. If you’ll be working with particularly heavy garden materials, look for a weight capacity of at least 200 pounds.
- Handles and Grips: Handles and grips are important for your comfort and for the leverage that the wheelbarrow provides. Most are made of metal with plastic or foam grips, but some are made of solid wood. Wooden handles should be from hardwoods like ash, hickory, or oak. The handles should also be long enough that you’ll be able to stand straight when using them. You’ll lift heavier loads with straight handles, but ergonomic shapes can help you avoid pain and injury.
- Wheels: Wheels are sometimes made of metal or plastic, but typically, they’re made of rubber. Some are solid, but the best tires are pneumatic, meaning that they’re filled with air like car tires. Pneumatic tires will give you smoother movement and easier handling, but the air pressure does have to be checked and maintained, and these tires can go flat. Semi-pneumatic tires give you some of the advantages of pneumatic tires, and they’re easier to maintain. Braces are important, too, as they’re what attach the wheels and the handles to the bed. They contribute to the weight-bearing capacity and should be made of metal.
What else can you use a wheelbarrow for?
You can use a wheelbarrow in decorative ways as well as functional ways. For example, you can use one as a planter for a nice flower or herb garden. Seasonal displays look great in a wheelbarrow, especially with pumpkins and other gourds in the fall. And you can even fill a wheelbarrow with ice and drinks if you throw a barbeque party. Plus, wheelbarrow rides can be great fun, especially on grass or dirt. So don’t feel limited in use with a wheelbarrow around.
Our Picks for the Best Wheelbarrows
Gorilla Carts Poly Garden Dump Cart
This wheelbarrow maneuvers like a champ and turns on a dime. Plus, it can take on the largest, dirtiest, hard-core loads, and its longevity has yet to be challenged.
Pros: Talk about a heavy-duty wheelbarrow! The Gorilla Poly Garden Dump Cart is sturdy, durable, and easy to maneuver with such a tight turning radius. It has a steel frame that provides a solid foundation and a durable polymer bed to retain whatever debris you’re carting. The four-wheel design and pneumatic tires allow you to cover uneven terrain without losing balance, even when it’s fully loaded. Able to haul up to 600 pounds, it’s a good thing that the Gorilla Cart wheelbarrow has a quick-release dump feature. You just pull the handle at the bottom beneath the padded steering handle. The back wheels roll forward, rolling the weight forward, which then lowers the dump bed completely. The bed measures 38.7 inches long by 20 inches wide by 19.5 inches tall and weighs 32 pounds. The wheelbarrow comes with the tools necessary to assemble it, which is a major bonus.
Cons: While the polymer plastic bed has value because it won’t rust, it has its disadvantages. The plastic isn’t completely rigid but has some flex to it, so users hauling a huge load, such as a 600-pound load, can run into difficulties. Also, the cart is on the small and heavy side.
Bottom Line: This wheelbarrow lives up to Gorilla Carts’ reputation for its utilitarian, rugged products. The quick-release dump feature is a major selling point, and if you’ve ever used a wheelbarrow, you know why. With a traditionally designed wheelbarrow, you have to practically turn it upside down to fully unload it. Whether or not it’s able to bear 600 pounds, it’s safe to say that that cart can hold a lot—more than most wheelbarrows. Hopefully, you’ll appreciate the quality of its easy-to-steer and balance features because the Gorilla cart will be with you for a long, long time.
Worx Aerocart Wheelbarrow
This two-wheel cart has eight-in-one functionality and a design that makes lifting up to 300 pounds feel super light.
Pros: The Aerocart is essentially eight carts in one. Using the included accessories, you can alter the Aerocart to suit the job at hand. Turn it into a dolly and extended dolly, cylinder carrier, a rock or plant mover, trailer tote, yard cart, and bag holder! The secret’s in the design. The Aerocart’s two wheels remain under the weight of the load for all eight functions. For example, if you’re pushing the Aeorcart in dolly mode and you stop to unload, you angle the cart forward, which sets the fulcrum in motion, shifting the wheels forward. Bingo! Gravity and leverage, and, of course, the Aerocart itself, makes unloading easy. The same is true for all eight functions. As a dolly, the Aerocart has a 300-pound load capacity. As a plant and rock mover, it has an 80-pound capacity. As a trailer mover (aka trailer tote), it can pull up to 1,000 pounds. You also get a cylinder holder, a bag holder, a plant mover strap, a rock mover mesh, and an attachable wagon kit—the tools you need to use all eight functions.
Cons: Truth be told, if you simply need a basic wheelbarrow, the Worx Aerocart is probably not a great option. Why? Because it’s designed to function in seven other ways. That’s the focus behind the Aerocart. Otherwise, you might as well use your money on a straightforward wheelbarrow that you know you’ll use.
Bottom Line: The Worx Aerocart makes your work easier, as it lightens the weight on you physically. Two hundred pounds feels like 17 pounds! The magic of the cart is, at the core, its state-of-the-art versatile and convenient design. So the Aerocart can be admired from a shopping browser viewpoint, but the bottom line question is: Will you make use of all eight functions, or do you simply need a basic wheelbarrow? If it’s the latter, we have other products to show you!
Best Choice Products Dual-Wheel Wheelbarrow
This affordable, green, steel and polyurethane wheelbarrow is a throwback to the '70s style-wise, but it possesses the qualities of ancient wheelbarrows: strength and durability.
Pros: The Best Choice Dual-Wheel Wheelbarrow is a no-nonsense workhorse. Check out the design for proof! The durable steel frame is powder-coated to ward off rust and give it longevity. Its deep bed holds up to 5 cubic feet and up to 330 pounds of soil, bricks, mulch, gravel, and whatever else you need to transport. Also, the bed is made of polyurethane-made rubber, a material that’s known for its super strength. The Best Choice wheelbarrow features two 13-inch inflatable rubber wheels and pneumatic casters for great grip and the ability to handle tough terrain. Even the ergonomic handlebar is nice, being thick and padded. The wheelbarrow’s dimensions (36 inches long by 25 inches wide by 20 inches high) will likely fit in a corner of the garage. Just tip the handle so that the scoop end is on the floor and the handle is on the wall.
Cons: There are two sides to a coin. Because the frame is made of steel, it’s subject to rust no matter how great the powder job. It comes with an instruction manual that includes assembly instructions, but some users can find them confusing and the wheelbarrow difficult to assemble. Users might also find the overall quality of the parts to be disappointing.
Bottom Line: The Best Choice Dual-Wheel Wheelbarrow is a decent, affordable product. It will get you from point A to B, but it might not last for years. A lot of thought was put into the design. That much is clear. It has a lot going for it. However, for users who are looking for a high-quality wheelbarrow that they’re ready to invest some money in, this might not be the best option.
Snapper XD 82V MAX Self-Propelled Utility Cart
This self-propelled, battery-operated cart is great for users who need an assist with heavy loads.
Pros: The Snapper self-propelled utility cart is great for users who need an assist with heavy loads. The two basic characteristics that make the Snapper a great wheelbarrow are its design and power source. With an alloy steel reinforced frame, large 12-inch tires, a brushless motor, and heavy-duty transmission, the Snapper has the ideal setup for tough work. And it doesn’t just do one thing (carry and dump loads of debris like ordinary wheelbarrows). It doubles as a pull-behind cart. Just unfold the steel hinge and connect it to your riding lawnmower or lawn tractor, and away you go, up to 6 miles per hour. But before you tow the Snapper, you might as well take advantage of the 3.7-cubic feet cargo bed that retains up to 200 pounds. The cart is infinitely controllable within two forward and reverse ranges at a max speed of 2.6 mph. Other standout features include durable 8-inch rear caster tires quickly locked with foot brake, ergonomic rubber handles, intuitive controls, and a battery indicator.
Cons: The most obvious disadvantage of the Snapper is that it doesn’t come with the Briggs & Stratton 82V Max Lithium-ion battery or charger. You have to buy them separately, and the cost is quite high, maybe too high for some users. Oh, and “self-propelled” doesn’t mean hands-free.
Bottom Line: The Snapper is constructed of quality parts and designed with helpful features, not just snazzy accessories. It’s clear that it really can make yard work easier, faster, and more enjoyable. Basically, it’s built like a tank and functions almost like a robot. Running 100% on battery power, it does what you tell it to do: It drives forward, reverses, and dumps, and all using its own energy, not yours. You just walk and guide the thing along. It can carry up to 200-pound loads and has speed controls.
TOMY John Deere Steel Wheelbarrow for Kids
It's time to get dirty! If your kid loves playing outside and helping you out with gardening chores, this wheelbarrow could be a very cool tool!
Pros: Kids love to help out in the yard! OK, not all kids do, and not with every lawn task, but your kid might, and this officially licensed John Deere wheelbarrow could be just the ticket. It’s not just a toy, either. It’s a real steel wheelbarrow with a free-rolling wheel and vinyl hand grips. It measures 34 by 16 by 11 inches and weighs only 9 pounds. Even with a few logs or some dirt in tow, most kids will have no trouble maneuvering the wheelbarrow. Anyway, if it tips over, there’s a great learning opportunity. You know, accidents happen! No biggie! If you or someone in your family owns John Deere lawn and garden products, you know the symbolic power of the iconic green and yellow paint job. If it’s important to you, it’s probably important to your kids. They will feel like they’re on your team, working alongside you.
Cons: Kids grow constantly, right? Right. It might be too tall, too short, too wide, or, at 9.13 pounds, too heavy. The recommended age is 2 years and above, but it might not be safe for smaller kids. Additionally, the wheelbarrow requires some assembling.
Bottom Line: You know your kid better than we do! Will they like the John Deere wheelbarrow? Do they enjoy getting dirty and helping out with outdoor chores? Look at it this way. This wheelbarrow is a solid John Deere product—durable and functional. So if your child enjoys yard work, this is a great buy.
Wheelbarrows vary in how they operate and in what they can do for you throughout the year. You might need to shovel out a snow barrier to your car, move a pile of leaves, transport mulch, or carry a load of dead branches to the back of your truck. What better way to complete these tasks than with a wheelbarrow? Wherever you live and whatever terrain you have to deal with, it makes sense to have a wheelbarrow on hand.