Best Wheelbarrows for Gardening and Yard Work

Wheelbarrows used to be simple things…a wonky single wheel and a rusty steel frame. At least that’s how I remember them. Now things change and the humble wheelbarrow hasn’t been left behind. Now you can get polymer barrows, two-wheel barrows, and garden carts in all sorts of shapes and sizes.

So how do you pick the best wheelbarrow from that bunch?

I’m looking to answer that in this article. I’ll explain what each format of wheelbarrow has to offer and in what situation they are intended to be used. We will find you the ideal product that will meet your needs, whether it’s for general garden maintenance or a more rugged barrow for that mini landscaping project you have in mind.

The Best Wheel Barrows

If you’re in a hurry and don’t wish to read through each of the product specifications, then take look at my ‘best in class’ list below that shows you the best wheelbarrows with a single wheel, two wheels, and even four wheels. Albeit, the four-wheeler is technically a garden cart but hey…I’m just trying to help out around here.

Ace Steel Residential Wheelbarrow 6 ft³

Best Single Wheel Barrow

Ace Steel Residential Wheelbarrow 6 ft³

Perfect for backyard use. Light enough to work with, yet strong enough to cope with any landscape or garden project.

Gorilla Carts Twin Wheelbarrow Poly Yard Cart

Best 2-Wheel Wheelbarrow

Gorilla Carts Twin Wheelbarrow Poly Yard Cart

Well-made, compact, low-profile wheelbarrow with great balance. The folding handle allows this cart easy to store

Gorilla Carts Poly Dump Cart 1200 lb Capacity

Best Garden Cart

Gorilla Carts Poly Dump Cart 1200 lb Capacity

Super-strong cart ideally suited to moving big loads. Perfectly balanced wheel base and easy to steer.

Garden Cart vs. Wheelbarrow

The terms “wheelbarrow” and “garden cart” are sometimes used interchangeably, but they refer to different things. Wheelbarrows have one or two wheels, sloped sides, and are meant to be pushed. Garden carts, on the other hand, have two or four wheels, a flat bottom, and vertical sides, and may be pushed or pulled. 

Wheelbarrows generally handle rugged terrain better than garden carts, but a cart is often more practical for hauling large, heavy materials. Some can even be pulled behind a tractor or ATV, like the 1,200-pound dump cart from Gorilla Carts.

Single vs. Two-Wheel Wheelbarrow

Wheelbarrows may have one or two wheels, while garden carts have two or more. More wheels are not necessarily better, however. Here’s what you should know about each barrow type before you buy.

Single-Wheel Wheelbarrow 

Single-wheel barrows are the original choice and are still the most common. They sit like a tripod at rest, on the single wheel and two pegs, lifting and pivoting on the wheel when in motion. They require more strength to keep steady than a two-wheel barrow, are prone to tipping, and require a wide radius to maneuver, but they’re inexpensive and easy to find.

Two-Wheel Wheelbarrow

A 2-wheel wheelbarrow has two front wheels that make the entire barrow or cart more stable and less prone to tipping. They are often wider than single-wheel barrows, but they have a zero-turn radius, as they can rotate in place, which makes them easier to maneuver.

Four-Wheel Garden Cart

A four-wheel garden cart can often hold more weight than a cart or barrow with one or two wheels, but they’re often more difficult to maneuver, like a shopping cart. On the other hand, some have unique dumping mechanisms that make them easier to unload than their one- and two-wheeled counterparts.

Choosing the Best Wheelbarrow

Modern wheelbarrows and garden carts have a wide range of features to choose from, each of which is good in some situations but not so good in others. The best wheelbarrow for you has features that make your life easier. Here’s what you should know about wheelbarrow features.

Frame Construction

A wheelbarrow frame is usually metal, which may be bare or coated with paint or other finishing material. It may be welded to the basin, or it may be attached with bolts. 

Galvanized Steel vs. Coated

Whether galvanized or coated, steel frames are the standard for most wheelbarrows and carts. A galvanized steel frame is continuously exposed to the elements, so it will rust sooner than a coated steel frame, but you can avoid this by storing your wheelbarrow in a garage or shed.

Welded vs. Bolted

A welded frame is permanently attached to the basin of your wheelbarrow, which means it arrives fully assembled and can’t be disassembled. A bolted frame wheelbarrow may arrive with some assembly required but can usually be disassembled or folded for easy storage.

Pan or Tray Material

Original wheelbarrows were made from bare steel and hardwood. Today’s wheelbarrows and garden carts come in more durable and stylish materials, such as painted metal and molded plastic.

Metal (Painted or Galvanized)

Galvanized metal trays are the classic choice for wheelbarrows because they’re tough enough for heavy-duty jobs and super inexpensive. But exposed metal is prone to rust, especially if left outside, so metal wheelbarrows should be stored in a shed or other covered area. Painted metal rusts less but tends to chip and peel, which will expose it eventually anyway. 

Metal wheelbarrows, whether coated or not, are heavy but durable. They can hold more weight than plastic barrows and are less likely to break when loaded with rocky material. Sharp, heavy rocks can still dent and even puncture them, leaving them more exposed to premature rust.

Plastic

Plastic or “poly” wheelbarrows are lightweight and durable, making them great for residential garden use. They’re best suited for residential yard work that primarily involves moving bagged mulch, soil, garden tools, and plants. They can’t hold as much weight as a steel barrow, but they’re less likely to be dented and scratched by smaller rocks and gravel.

Size and Capacity

Wheelbarrows and garden carts come in a wide range of sizes, weight capacities, and shapes, but bigger isn’t always better. Here’s everything you need to know about barrow capacities.

Tray Capacity (Litres or Cubic Feet)

The tray capacity, measured in liters or cubic feet, describes the total volume the wheelbarrow can contain. In the United States, wheelbarrows and garden carts are most commonly measured by their capacity in cubic feet.

Wheelbarrows with a large tray capacity of seven cubic feet or more are great for brush clearing and other jobs where you’re moving bulky items. A wheelbarrow or cart with a barrow capacity of six cubic feet or less is perfect for basic residential jobs like weeding, mulching, and planting. However, tray capacity does not necessarily correspond to weight capacity, as you’ll soon see. 

Max Weight Capacity

The maximum weight capacity of a wheelbarrow or garden cart tells you how much weight it can safely hold without collapsing or becoming dangerous to use. You can’t make assumptions about a barrow’s weight capacity just because a cart has a large volume capacity, though, so make sure you know the max weight of a barrow before you buy it.

For example, the Polar Utility Lawn Cart has a capacity of ten cubic feet but a max weight limit of only 400 pounds. That means you could load it full of ten cubic feet of brush, leaves, mulch, and maybe even dirt. But if you put ten cubic feet of gravel or rocks in it, it could collapse and cause injury.

On the other hand, the seven-cubic-foot dump cart from Gorilla Carts has a weight capacity of over 1,200 pounds. That means you can move more brush and leaves with the Polar cart but more rocks with the one from Gorilla Carts. Make sure the wheelbarrow you buy can handle the jobs you intend to throw at it. 

Optimum Height and Length

The height of a wheelbarrow or garden cart can greatly impact how comfortable and easy it is to use. A low-profile garden cart, especially one with a high volume and/or weight capacity, is easier to load with material off the ground than a taller cart because you don’t have to lift it so high to get it over the sides. 

On the other hand, shorter barrows and carts can be uncomfortable for taller people to move, as they have to bend over further to lift and push them. If you’re especially tall, look for a wheelbarrow with adjustable handles for more enjoyable use.

A long wheelbarrow gives you more vertical dumping leverage than a shorter one, but beware that garden carts with long noses, like the Polar Utility Lawn Cart, require you to lift the handles higher to the dump, which may be impractical for shorter people.

Handle Design

A wheelbarrow’s handles are a large part of what determines how comfortable and efficient a wheelbarrow is to use. Here’s what you should look for when deciding what kind of handle setup is right for you.

Tipping Bar

A traditional single-wheel barrow has handles that form a tight V-shape, starting wide at the back of the barrow and nearly connecting in front of the wheel. The tipping bar spans the gap between them, acting as a stabilizing foot when the barrow is tilted forward for dumping. 

Without a tipping bar, you would have to turn a single-wheel barrow all the way on its side to empty it, which would be damaging to your back, or lift the handles all the way up, shaking the contents loose while trying not to let it roll over your foot or down the hill. 

Personally, I would never pay money for a single-wheel wheelbarrow that didn’t have a tipping bar. In fact, you’d have to pay me to use it. The lack of a tipping bar is more than an inconvenience. It renders a single-wheel barrow useless at best and dangerous at worst. 

Two-wheel barrows don’t generally have a tipping bar because they tilt on their axle while the front of the barrow makes contact with the ground, stabilizing it while dumping. Some two- and most four-wheel carts have a unique tipping mechanism, also sometimes called a tipping bar, that allows you to lift one end of the bed off the cart for leverage while dumping.

Double Handles

Traditional wheelbarrows, and most modern wheelbarrows, have two separate handles that you hold with your arms down and at your sides. They require a lot of exertion from your shoulders and the back of your arms to lift the wheelbarrow but relatively little work to keep it lifted. 

Some wheelbarrows, and many garden carts, have a loop handle design, connecting the two separate handles with a horizontal bar, like a shopping cart. This can be more comfortable to use, particularly for people with more limited lifting strength, and it makes it possible to pull the yard cart or barrow.

You get a lot of side-to-side dumping leverage with double handles because you can push one side down while lifting the other side. You lose that leverage with the loop handle design, which works best on barrows and carts with two or more wheels that have a built-in pivot axis or dumping mechanism.

Plastic or Rubber Grips

If you’ve ever used an old, rusty wheelbarrow, you know how uncomfortable cracked and splintered wood handles can be. Modern wheelbarrows with hardwood handles are varnished to prevent splitting, but they can still cause blisters and pain in your hands.

Some barrows have molded plastic handles that are more ergonomic than traditional hardwood handles. These handles take some strain off your hands, but the hard plastic can still cause blistering, and they get hot in the sun.

Barrows with rubber grips are the most comfortable to use, but they’re surprisingly uncommon these days. Perhaps that’s because the rubber tends to break down before the wheelbarrow does, making the situation worse than it was, to begin with.

Wheelbarrow Wheels

There are two types of wheelbarrow wheels – solid and pneumatic. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages, depending on where and how you intend to use your wheelbarrow. Here’s what you should keep in mind when you’re trying to decide.

Pneumatic

Pneumatic wheels have an air-filled tube inside them that can be filled and emptied like a bicycle tire. The inner tube acts as a cushion, compressing to roll over rough terrain gently without jostling the load inside the bed of the barrow. 

The downside of pneumatic wheels is that they’re prone to leaking and flattening, so they need to be refilled regularly. You can refill them with an ordinary bicycle hand pump, but it takes a long time and a lot of physical work. An air compressor makes refilling pneumatic tires much easier. They require regular maintenance and can be a pain without something to refill them.

Solid Puncture-Proof

Solid puncture-proof wheels, frequently called flat-free wheels, have no inner tube that can leak or go flat. They’re made from a solid material, usually rubber, that never needs to be refilled. They’re great for construction areas where stray nails and other debris can spell disaster for air-filled pneumatic tires.

But flat-free tires don’t flex and bounce the way pneumatic tires do, making them poorly suited for rough terrain and long distances. Flat-free tires tend to get stuck on debris like rocks, boards, sticks, and even divots in the ground. They perform much better on relatively even ground and poured or paved surfaces.

best wheelbarrow. 1

Best Wheelbarrow Reviews

I know it can be hard to know where to start when you’re looking for a new wheelbarrow, so I’ve tested over a dozen to bring you the eight best wheelbarrows on the market today. The list includes no-frills, budget-friendly options, heavy-duty towable carts, and everything in between, so no matter what kind of work you want to do with it, you’ll find what you’re looking for here. 

Ace Steel Residential Wheelbarrow 6 ft³
  • Type: Residential wheelbarrow
  • Capacity: 6 cubic feet
  • Product Weight: Not specified
  • Wheels: Single, pneumatic
  • Material: Steel

Pros

  • Painted steel basin resists rust and holds up to heavy-duty jobs
  • Affordable on almost any budget
  • The pneumatic tire can handle rough terrain

Cons

  • Unspecified weight capacity means you never know when the steel legs might collapse
  • No added stability or comfort features to make it more pleasant to use 

If you need a no-nonsense, no-frills wheelbarrow that you can count on to handle the toughest tasks you can throw at it, look no further than this single-wheel wheelbarrow from Ace Hardware. The bolted steel tray and hardwood handles are exactly the images you picture when you think of a basic wheelbarrow – and in this case, that’s a good thing.

It doesn’t have fancy features like stabilization legs, control handles, or dump mechanisms. The design hasn’t changed since your parents bought their first wheelbarrow. But it does have a price point of under $100, which is great for price-conscious consumers. Why spend more on features you don’t need?

True Temper Poly Residential Wheelbarrow 6 ft³
  • Type: Residential wheelbarrow
  • Capacity: 6 cubic feet
  • Product Weight: Not specified
  • Wheels: Single, pneumatic
  • Material: Poly

Pros

  • Poly material is durable and lightweight for when every pound counts
  • Total Control handles help you get a good grip and solid leverage at any angle
  • Least expensive poly wheelbarrow for lawn and garden enthusiasts on a budget

Cons

  • Sharp rocks, cement blocks, and other heavy objects may crack the tray if thrown in too roughly
  • Handles are a hard black plastic that gets uncomfortably hot in the sun

The True Temper Residential Wheelbarrow is perfect for lawn and garden jobs that require lighter work. The single pneumatic wheel absorbs shock over rougher terrain than could otherwise make the wheelbarrow unstable. The Total Control handles are perfect for people who have a weaker grip or other issues that make controlling a wheelbarrow difficult.

This wheelbarrow has an average capacity for residential use, so it’s perfect for large suburban yards. It’s tough enough for most light- to medium-duty yard work tasks, but the poly bin can break under heavy-duty jobs like moving rocks. I would recommend this wheelbarrow to a single homeowner or renter who does more gardening than construction.

6 Cubic Foot Steel Wheelbarrow Flat Free Tire
  • Type: Contractor wheelbarrow
  • Capacity: 6 cubic feet
  • Product Weight: 59 pounds
  • Wheels: Single, flat-free
  • Material: Steel

Pros

  • Painted steel is rust-resistant for long-lasting durability
  • The foam-filled flat-free tire is puncture-resistant
  • More stable than most single-wheel barrows due to Jackson’s unique leg stabilizers

Cons

  • Heavy steel construction may make even light loads feel heavy
  • Lack of cushioned grip means you’re sure to have blisters after a long day of work

This single-wheel contractor wheelbarrow has a 6-cubic-foot painted steel tray tough enough for your heaviest jobs in a surprisingly attractive light blue color. The 60-inch hardwood handles are seal coated for longevity but unfortunately not padded, which will hurt hands after just a couple of loads.

This Jackson wheelbarrow also has a unique safety feature – patented leg stabilizers designed to prevent tipping. This wheelbarrow stands firm compared to other single-wheel barrows that seem like you could knock them over with a feather.

Unfortunately, the steel construction means this wheelbarrow is heavy, and the flat-free tire is firm and inflexible, making it unwieldy to navigate rough terrain. The Jackson Flat-Free Steel Wheelbarrow has a rather limited ideal use case – heavy-duty jobs on mostly even terrain and paved surfaces. But for that purpose, it’s hard to beat.

Gorilla Carts Poly Dump Cart 1200lb Heavy-Duty
  • Type: High-capacity dump cart
  • Capacity: 7 cubic feet / 1,200 pounds
  • Product Weight: Not specified
  • Wheels: Four, pneumatic
  • Material: Poly

Pros

  • Single handle can be pulled by hand or towed behind a tractor or ATV
  • Gorilla Carts dumping mechanism makes light work of heavy loads
  • Zero-turn steering turns on a dime, making it easy to get in and out of tight spaces

Cons

  • Something that holds this much weight should come with a braking mechanism of some sort
  • Tires need regular refilling, especially when used at max capacity 

This uniquely designed dump cart from Gorilla Carts is durable enough to handle all your toughest lawn and garden jobs. The tough poly bed, sturdy steel frame, and 13-inch pneumatic wheels give the Gorilla Carts Poly Dump Cart a weight maximum of 1,200 pounds. 

Fortunately, the dump cart’s handle is designed to be towed by an ATV or garden tractor and pulled by hand, so you can haul it around even when it’s fully loaded. The unique dumping mechanism gives you more leverage to dump the bed, no matter how heavy it is. The Gorilla Carts line of garden carts is my favorite, hands down, and this one is the toughest by far.

Garden Star Garden Barrow Dual-Wheel Wheelbarrow
  • Type: Garden cart
  • Capacity: 4 cubic feet
  • Weight: 20 pounds
  • Wheels: Two, pneumatic
  • Material: Poly

Pros

  • A flat bottom tray is perfect for moving brush, tools, and plants around the yard
  • Easy forward dumping thanks to the angled front of the tray
  • Small enough to fit in a garden shed or corner of the garage

Cons

  • The handle is too low for tall users to use comfortably
  • Not suitable for large users or heavy loads

The Garden Star Garden Barrow is somewhat misnamed because it clearly fits the criteria for a garden cart. Semantics aside, this petite garden cart is just the right size for small yards, small garages, or gardeners who don’t need to move that much around at once. At four cubic feet, there’s just enough room for a couple of mulch or soil bags and a few gardening tools.

Assembly is required, but the bolted frame only takes six bolts to pull it all together. I wholeheartedly recommend this cart for anyone whose yardwork requires a lighter touch. You won’t be hauling much gravel in this lightweight yard cart, but it’s tough enough for ordinary day-to-day gardening and yard work tasks.

Polar Trailer Double Wheel Cub Cart
  • Type: Heavy-duty garden cart
  • Capacity: 7 cubic feet / 400 pounds
  • Weight: 35 pounds
  • Wheels: Two, pneumatic
  • Material: Poly

Pros

  • Huge capacity for bulky jobs like brush clearing, tree cutting, and rock moving
  • Basin is well balanced over the dual wheels for improved maneuverability
  • Extremely light for such a durable garden cart

Cons

  • The 400-pound weight maximum is pretty low for a cart of this size
  • Tires are prone to deflating and, in some cases, popping, even under the recommended tire pressure

The Polar Double-Wheel Cub Cart is a heavy-duty cart that’s surprisingly light, coming in at only 35 pounds, which feels light as a feather thanks to the loop-shaped handle. It’s sort of like a hybrid between a wheelbarrow and a garden cart, with sloped sides like a barrow and a push-pull design like a cart. It’s perfect for hauling firewood and mulch.

The rubber pneumatic tires have a wide track to help you maintain traction even on smooth or wet surfaces, and the ball bearings are shielded, so they never need maintenance. It’s guaranteed not to rust, crack, or dent for years to come. The Polar Double Wheel Cub Cart is a garden cart built to stand the test of time. 

Gorilla Carts Twin Wheelbarrow Poly Yard Cart
  • Type: Compact garden cart
  • Capacity: 4 cubic feet / 300 pound
  • Weight: 27 pounds
  • Wheels: Two, pneumatic
  • Material: Poly

Pros

  • A foldable frame is great for homes with limited storage space
  • Low-profile design is easy to fill, even with heavy materials
  • Loop handle design makes it easy to move large loads

Cons

  • Limited weight capacity is better suited for small yards and lighter-duty gardeners
  • The handle is fixed, not adjustable, which makes it hard for people who are taller or have mobility issues to move the cart comfortably

Traditional wheelbarrows can be heavy and hard to maneuver, especially for people who have limited lifting capacities. This impact-resistant poly yard cart from Gorilla Carts features a loop-shaped arm for added leverage, making it easier to push or pull heavy loads from one part of your garden to another. 

I love the space-saving design of the Gorilla Carts Yard Cart. The frame folds in half, so it’ll even fit neatly in the corner of a small storage shed. Homeowners and renters with small yards and limited room for storage should look no further than this low-profile garden cart from Gorilla Carts.

Polar Dual Wheel Utility Lawn Cart
  • Type: High-capacity garden cart
  • Capacity: 10 cubic feet / 400 pounds
  • Weight: 49 pounds
  • Wheels: Two, flat-free
  • Material: Poly

Pros

  • Spoked wheels are flat-free and attractive
  • A sophisticated silhouette is as nice-looking as it is practical
  • Ten cubic feet of capacity means you can carry a huge volume of brush, leaves, mulch, tools, etc.

Cons

  • The long shape of the cart makes dumping impractical
  • Solid flat-free tires make moving on uneven terrain difficult 

“Stylish” isn’t a word I typically use to describe lawn and garden equipment, but this massive garden cart from Polar is just that. The spoked, flat-free rubber wheels and uniquely shaped frame give the Polar Utility Lawn Cart a sleek and sophisticated appearance, which is pretty impressive for something meant to haul dirt.

It has a capacity of a whopping ten cubic feet, more than any other garden cart or wheelbarrow on this list, but beware that the 400-pound weight maximum is average at best. Sure, you can haul ten cubic feet of material, but only if it’s lightweight. That’s rather disappointing, especially when the description repeatedly mentions moving heavy loads.

Verdict: Best Wheelbarrows for Gardening

There is no one-size-fits-all wheelbarrow that’s perfect for every user in every situation. The best wheelbarrow for gardening is the one that helps you get your lawn and garden work done more easily.

For lawn and garden lovers on a budget, I recommend a basic, single-wheel wheelbarrow, such as the steel one from Ace or the lightweight poly one from True Temper. 

Ace Steel Residential Wheelbarrow 6 ft³

Best Single Wheel Barrow

Ace Steel Residential Wheelbarrow 6 ft³

Perfect for backyard use. Light enough to work with, yet strong enough to cope with any landscape or garden project.

Gorilla Carts Twin Wheelbarrow Poly Yard Cart

Best 2-Wheel Wheelbarrow

Gorilla Carts Twin Wheelbarrow Poly Yard Cart

Well-made, compact, low-profile wheelbarrow with great balance. The folding handle allows this cart easy to store

Gorilla Carts Poly Dump Cart 1200 lb Capacity

Best Garden Cart

Gorilla Carts Poly Dump Cart 1200 lb Capacity

Super-strong cart ideally suited to moving big loads. Perfectly balanced wheel base and easy to steer.

For users who have a hard time managing traditional hardwood dual handles, I recommend a model with loop handles, like the yard cart from Gorilla Carts, or something with ergonomic handles, like the Total Control handles on the True Temper wheelbarrow.

Finally, you can’t beat the 1,200-pound capacity of the towable Gorilla Carts Dump Cart for the toughest jobs. While it’s way more cart than most users could ever need, it’s perfect for anyone who does heavy-duty yard work that other barrows and carts can’t handle.

Best Wheelbarrow FAQs

Here are some common questions I get about wheelbarrows and garden carts.