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Exploring Wheelbarrows and Garden Carts

Avatar for Samantha Biggers Samantha Biggers  |  Updated: November 24, 2020
Exploring Wheelbarrows and Garden Carts

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There are a lot of new gardeners out there. In this article we are going to continue what I started in my previous article on garden tools. A good cart or wheel barrow is very handy to have even if you just have a moderately sized yard. There is no use wearing yourself out or wasting a lot of time carrying things when you can roll them. There is plenty to do in a garden without all that.

1 or 2 Wheels? Which wheel barrow is right?

After using a lot of cars and wheel barrels over the years, Matt and I agree that the 2 wheel variety is much easier to use. In college, I remember having to haul firewood down a mountain using the one-wheeled varieties the college provided and it was pretty awful. When Matt and I decided to build a house in our mid-twenties he said we should get a two-wheeler. He had worked on some other jobs and said they were a lot better and he was sure right.

Two wheels are more stable and take more of the load off of you. Yes, you will pay more but it is worth it if you plan on using your barrow for a lot of tasks. If you just have a small yard to deal with then maybe it won’t make a huge difference. Just know that 2 is easier on the back than 1 and it is not nearly as likely to tip over.


Like any tool, there are different sizes to choose from. If a smaller wheelbarrow suits your needs then by all means get it. Bigger is not better for everyone. Also, you might consider that the bigger the barrow the more likely it is that you load it with too much weight and strain yourself. I am definitely guilty of doing this on more than one occasion.

I also realize that space is limited for a lot of people so smaller may be better for the average homeowner on a lot in town.

Weight Capacity

Carts always have a weight capacity listed. This is just a guideline but I advise following it. The more stress you put on a cart the shorter the usable lifespan on your investment. Wheelbarrows have a stated capacity too but you may have to dig around in some fine print to find it. Most of the time you are hard-pressed to pile so much in the space of a barrow or cart that you exceed the capacity anyway.


There are a few types of wheels out there. Tubed, tubeless, and solid. We usually wind up with tubeless and then add Tire Slime to them to seal them up to prevent leaks. Wheelbarrows are notorious for getting leaks due to the nature of what they are used for. Some people find that after a leak or two that they are better off buying a solid tire or two and avoiding any possibility of flats.

Marathon Yard Rover

This wheelbarrow is a real bargain for what you get. 2 wheels and a sturdy bar to push and steer with make this handy device stand out. Yes, the main body is plastic but it is tough.

Gorilla Carts 600 lb Capacity

This is a good deal for a garden cart that has a moderate capacity. It has a quick-release dump bed that makes unloading much easier than a standard cart can provide. Pneumatic tires and a padded handle makes this cart comfortable to use even if you are just pulling it by hand.

True Temper 6 cu. ft. Steel Wheelbarrow with Steel Handles and Flat Free Tire

This is a classic metal barrow design that holds a lot. The steel body is tough and a great choice for those that do not want a plastic barrow. Unfortunately, it only has a single tire but that tire is a flat free tire so you don’t have to worry about that. True Temper is a solid brand that has been around for many years.

Kids Wheel Barrow

It is important to include kids in gardening and outdoor chores. There are smaller kid’s wheelbarrows that allow them to have their own. These are sized appropriately to prevent kids from overloading them too much. I know when I was a kid I wanted to carry as much as everyone else even though I was far too small to do so safely so I can see how a smaller barrow that prevents that type of thing could be a positive addition to the tools a family owns.

TOMY John Deere Steel Wheelbarrow for Kids, Green

This is a very small beginners wheel barrow just for the record but it is a nice way to get small kids out in the garden or yard and involved with chores.

Cart or Barrow?

The answer to this is often both if you have more than the average amount of space or if you have an ATV or garden tractor. A barrow can be nice and it allows you to push things around on wheels, reducing the workload. A cart is great too but it takes more work if you are pulling it by hand. Believe me, I know how pulling a cart can be.

I pulled 14,000 lbs of gravel one cart at a time when moving it around so we could mix the concrete for the foundation for our house. It was a help but a wheelbarrow probably would have been better. I used what I had at the time. If you have a way to pull a cart, then that is great! Those with ATV’s or lawn tractors should definitely get a cart to pull behind it.

A.M. Leonard Poly Wheelbarrow – 6 Cubic Feet

This is another single tire barrow but I think it deserves a mention in this post because it has an extra-wide single tire that gives it more of the stability you would expect in a two-wheel version. The tire is a full 5 1/2″ wide. The body is made of poly plastic but it is industrial grade, holding up to 500 lbs. A.M. Leonard is a well-known company in the construction industry so I am confident in my recommendation of this wheelbarrow. It is more expensive than some in this size range but for that, you get a more heavy-duty barrow.

Care and Maintainance

Like any tool, it is best if you store your cart or barrow in a dry place that is protected from direct sunlight. While metal is not affected by sunlight so much, the plastics that are used for carts and barrows will not last as long if exposed to UV rays excessively. A cart or barrow can handle getting rained or snowed on and even left outside occasionally but it should not be par for the course. At least cover it with something.

Metal carts and barrows may need a coat of metal paint like Rustoleum occasionally to help reduce or eliminate rust and ensure you get the most amount of time out of your investment.

Gorilla Carts GOR400-COM Steel Garden Cart with Removable Sides, 400-lbs. Capacity

This is a very popular style of cart that you often see at even smaller home improvement stores. The sides fold down so that it can be used as a flatbed which can come in handy.

Pulling A Cart With A Lawn Tractor

It takes some practice to learn how to maneuver a cart or wagon with even a small tractor. I advise practicing in a somewhat flat and clear area at least a little to give yourself a chance to get comfortable.

Remember that the way you distribute the weight of your load is important. If you have a dump bed then raking a lot of the load to the back before dumping can help out.

Bon Contractor Grade Steel Double Wheel Wheelbarrow 

This would be my choice if I was in the market for a new classically designed wheelbarrow. Bon wheelbarrows are made in the USA. The main body is contractor grade steel. This is a barrow that is truly made for professionals.

The lip is double rolled which adds to the strength. I like that the bottom of the barrow is square but it has a nice front that allows you to easily dump what you are hauling. The tires are 16″ whereas a lot of barrows and carts feature 10″ tires. Another really important feature is that unlike most barrows, the handle and undercarriage are made entirely of metal so there is no wood to weaken or rot over time or with abuse.

If you try out a barrow of this caliber I am confident that you will be amazed at the difference and not want to go back to the cheapest one you can find at the home improvement store in your town.

Agri-Fab 45-0101 750-Pound Max Utility Tow Behind Dump Cart

These are a very good option for those that have even a small ATV or a lawn tractor. The metal body is tough and it hitches up easily. I used to drive my siblings around in the back of one of these when I was in grade school and I found it fairly easy to maneuver and use. The 750 lb capacity and dump bed make this a good choice for hauling soil and mulch around the yard. It has a big enough volume to be useful for gathering up leaves.

I have seen my father-in-law get a lot of work and hauling done with a cart like this. This cart is put together in the USA with just a few components being imported. You get a full 3-year warranty with your purchase. For those that have the means to pull it, this is the best deal featured in this article.

Power Wheel Barrows and Carts

I was not really aware that there were that many of these out there. Power barrows can be useful for those that really want a totally stand-alone option that has a dump bed that requires no physical effort. These are not inexpensive devices but they are also not so expensive that they are not worth mentioning. I will just show you one barrow and one cart so you can get the idea. Remember that they come in many different styles. Some even have treads like a bulldozer and run on gas.

The styles that run on 12V deep cycle batteries would be possible to keep charged up with solar panels without too much trouble.

Landworks Electric Wheelbarrow Utility Cart Super Duty 

This barrow is run on a battery system and has a classic barrow design. The capacity is not as good as the cart below. This barrow is only rated for 330 lbs. If I had a choice between this and the cart below, I would go with the cart.

Landworks Utility Cart Hand Truck Power Wagon Super Duty Electric 48V DC 500W

I think this is a pretty neat device really. It is a classic metal style cart like you see all the time. The sides can be removed so it will operate as a flatbed transport too. A full battery charge allows for 2-5 hours of use depending on how heavy your load is and how steep the terrain.

Carts and barrows may become even more useful in an SHTF situation.

While we use our carts and barrows for farm and garden work, there was a time when we didn’t have a truck to haul things up and down the mountain. Eventually, we had a 4 wheeler and could hook it up but there were definitely times when I used a metal cart with knobbly tires to haul things 1/4 mile up and down a mountain. Our road is still not in the greatest shape.

During an SHTF situation, you may need to move things short or moderate distances more often. If you can do that with a gas or electric motor then that is great but when that fails or is not an option due to terrain or other circumstances, a cart or barrow can be a big help.

Do you have a barrow or cart that you recommend?

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5 Responses to “Exploring Wheelbarrows and Garden Carts”

  1. I habitually use the two wheel barrow, and with our soft dirt and gravel, my rule is to PULL IT 90% of the time. Much easier to pull than to push, and two wheels avoids tipping and lessens tire loading.

  2. I recommend taking a good look at the wheels. Some are cheaply made and some are very well made. On my wheel barrows I changed the tires to small 8 ply trailer tires with tubes. The first wheel barrow I put the trailer tire on was over thirty years ago and it is still holding up and I know that tires are not suppose to last that long

  3. Agree, 2 wheels is better and if they are spaced, like the Marathon, more better. Pneumatic tires need an air compressor.

  4. You got any good advice for people who live on a pension.

    I live on a disability pension, and that is why I am asking.

  5. Something you didn’t mention in the survival aspects, during the Gold Rush/Pioneer times, several people pushed/pulled hand carts/wheelbarrows literally coast to coast. With the mechanical advantage one can generally move up to their own weight in a properly loaded wheelbarrow. There journal accounts of men carrying all they needed to survive the trip to California. Yes, they were of hardier stock and in good physical condition.
    Another note: adding a strap from handle to handle across one’s shoulders increases your load capacity.

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