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There is going to come a time in your gardening experience where you will find that you need a wheelbarrow to get something done without breaking your back. Wheelbarrows are one of those basic gardening tools that many gardeners need. They can be used for many gardening tasks such as moving around dirt, compost, mulch, rocks, cut branches, wood, or gravel. But the key to doing this without needing to buy a new wheelbarrow all the time is to make sure you choose the right wheelbarrow.
Which type of wheelbarrow should you buy? It depends on your gardening habits and sometimes even the climate where you live can have an impact on which type of wheelbarrow will work best for you and your garden.
In this post we go over choosing the best wheelbarrow for gardening to fit your needs.
How To Choose A Wheelbarrow For Gardening
There are several varieties of wheelbarrows available to gardeners. And finding one that will suit your specific needs is important.
There are two main types of materials that the bucket for the wheelbarrow is made from. The main choice is usually either a steel or plastic wheelbarrow bucket. More recently canvas wheelbarrow buckets have come about adding more variety and meeting more gardeners’ needs.
Steel Wheelbarrow Buckets
A wheelbarrow with a steel bucket has the advantage of being able to take on more weight. This can be advantageous if you move a lot of rocks or gravel around often.
The main drawback of steel wheelbarrow buckets is that they can rust easily. To help avoid this, after you are done using your steel bucket wheelbarrow be sure to turn the wheelbarrow upside down so rainwater will not pool and cause the bucket to rust. We purchased one with a steel bucket and the first time of forgetting to turn it over, of course, it rains overnight. In that little amount of time, rust formed. So if you do decide on a steel bucket, be sure to turn it over or you might be buying a new one by the next spring. Another option would be to store your wheelbarrow in a garage or shed.
The other con of a steel wheelbarrow bucket is that it is heavier than its plastic counterpart. So if you don’t constantly haul rocks around and want to be sure you have the lightest load to push around your garden, then a plastic wheelbarrow bucket might be better for you.
There are some materials that can harm the steel bucket. So if you are hauling around things like fertilizers or manure you might want to not get a steel bucket wheelbarrow.
Plastic Wheelbarrow Buckets
Plastic buckets are lighter than steel ones. So this can be a big bonus when choosing a wheelbarrow if the weight you are pushing is needing to be kept low.
Another pro of a plastic bucket on a wheelbarrow is that these wheelbarrows usually cost less than steel wheelbarrows. There are exceptions, especially when it comes to ones that are specifically made to be heavy-duty plastic.
If you haul manure or fertilizer around, or maybe even mix concrete in your wheelbarrow, then plastic is going to be better for you over steel.
Plastic can easily crack under too much weight or extreme fluctuations in temperature. Making sure you buy a high-quality and heavy-duty plastic wheelbarrow can offset this risk.
Canvas Wheelbarrow Buckets
Canvas wheelbarrow buckets are not as popular as plastic or steel wheelbarrow buckets.
These are great for those who don’t have much space to store their wheelbarrows because these wheelbarrows can be folded up when stored away.
These wheelbarrows are also very lightweight and can be great for those who don’t have as much strength and need to stick to lighter garden tools.
You might be surprised to find out that wheelbarrows don’t always come with just the classic two handles that come up from the back end of the bucket. Wheelbarrows actually have handle types and variations of handles that have pros and cons depending on how you plan to use your wheelbarrow.
Classic Two Handle Wheelbarrows
The classic two-handle wheelbarrows are great for having leverage when dumping a wheelbarrow. This increased leverage can help prevent you from hurting your back.
Usually, these handles are made out of wood, metal, or plastic.
The plastic handles can crack and break from the load of the weight being moved around and dumped by the wheelbarrow.
Metal handles are tougher, and therefore longer lasting. However, the metal can get hot if they are sitting in direct sunlight too long, this can be a major drawback for gardeners as we are usually in sunny spots working in the garden. If you do get metal handles, making sure to use gloves can help with the hot handles.
Wood handles are the most popular material used for wheelbarrow handles. And the main reason many people prefer this material for handles is that they won’t get burning hot in the sunlight. One con of wood handles though is they can crack and splinter due to weight and weather exposure.
Ergonomic Wheelbarrow Handle
These wheelbarrow handles resemble a push lawnmower handle.
Using this design of wheelbarrow handle when you choose a wheelbarrow will help you reduce strain on your upper arms.
Unfortunately, ergonomic wheelbarrow handles can cause more back pain than classic wheelbarrow handles. This is due to the lack of leverage when trying to dump the contents of the wheelbarrow.
Number of Wheels
When you think of a wheelbarrow, you usually think of the bucket sitting atop one wheel. But wheelbarrows also come with two wheels.
When you only have one wheel on a wheelbarrow has some benefits and some cons. One wheel makes it easy to move around without accidentally running over any of your garden plants. But the main drawback of one wheel on a wheelbarrow is that it is easier to tip the wheelbarrow over when you don’t want it to. Or if you are carrying something very heavy and the wheelbarrow accidentally tips you might lose control and not keep it upright.
Two wheels on a wheelbarrow can help immensely if you are carrying heavy loads in the wheelbarrow. Having the two wheels will help keep balance and prevent accidental tipping. These types of wheelbarrows aren’t as common as the traditional one-wheel wheelbarrow, but they are becoming more popular. One drawback is that you need more room to maneuver these types of wheelbarrows. They aren’t able to pivot and turn as easily as one-wheeled wheelbarrows. The second con of two-wheel wheelbarrows is that they aren’t as easy to use on hills, flat areas are best with this type.
Types of Wheels
Wheel types on wheelbarrows can be solid or inflatable.
When you have an inflatable tire on a wheelbarrow it gives more cushion when going over bumps. This helps keep the wheelbarrow from bouncing around and jarring you, along with helping prevent tip-overs from going over bumps that throw the wheelbarrow off balance. If you choose a one-wheeled wheelbarrow then usually inflatable is best. However, one thing to remember is that these can go flat, or lose some air. So this will require putting air back in the tire or replacing it altogether if it can’t continue to hold air.
Solid tires will be less maintenance since you don’t have to worry about them going flat. But they will cause the bumps to shift the load, leading to accidental tip-overs.