Pros and Cons of Wheelbarrows and Garden Carts

Summary: A garden cart or wheelbarrow is a workhorse garden tool that many gardeners, DIY landscapers, and homeowners “love” as a back and time saver for their work outdoors.

Take the time to choose wisely and select the one best suited for your needs.

wheelbarrow and garden carts meet different needs like hauling soil or moving lightweight leavesPin

Question: My husband needs a wheelbarrow or some type of rolling garden cart for work around the house (he’s always outside), plus it would make the perfect “Father’s Day” gift. What is best to buy… a wheelbarrow or garden cart? Allyson, Johnson City, Tennessee

Answer: Allyson, I wish it was possible to give to the “right” answer, but yard carts or wheelbarrows need to meet the job and tasks of the user.

In fact, I would take the hubby down to the garden center and have him pick his toy out. There has been quite a bit of innovation in the world of gardening tools, including wheelbarrows and carts. So let’s look at some buying guidelines to consider.

  • What Will Be Hauled – How many cubic foot?
  • Operation
  • Value
  • Space Requirements
  • The Little Extras

Wheelbarrow and Garden Carts – What Will Be Hauled?

In selecting the “perfect” wheelbarrow or cart for use around the house, be honest an ask generally… What will be hauled, how will it be used, and who will being using it? This will help in narrowing down the overall design, load capacity, material construction, price, and size.

For example, will this hauling tool be used primarily to move leaves in the fall or a move heavy loads like landscape rocks?

Will muscle be needed to operate or will it be pulled behind a lawnmower or ATV? Is a bucket with wheels required or is dumping a requirement?

A utility cart may be a very simple canvas fold ups for moving raked leaves from one place to another or a hi-tech motorized gas powered electric wheelbarrow for handling heavy loads.


When you consider the operation of a garden cart or wheelbarrow several factors needs to be considered.

If heavy materials like large landscape rocks weighing hundreds of pounds are going to be moved, a sturdy metal 4-wheel garden cart makes a lot of sense, but if the maneuvering into tight spaces is also a factor a heavy duty wheelbarrow make be the ticket.

If the load is more along the lines of moving the compost pile, spreading mulch, moving leaves or trucking smaller sized rock around your property is more the hauling job description, than a fiberglass, tough poly tray plastic wheelbarrow or 2 wheeled cart may be the ideal selection.

If your needs are light duty such as moving leaves for leaf mulching and small branches where an industrial strength cart or wheelbarrow is too much, opt for a 2 wheel design made of one of the durable molded plastics on the market. You will find them called various names: yard cart or lawn cart.

Also consider weight if transport is a issue or you have a need to lift over hole, step or uneven terrain. Will a wheelbarrow with single wheel or 2 wheels better meet your needs over a 2 or 4 wheel wheelbarrow or cart?

Cost / Value

Cost is always an issue, especially in today’s cost conscience world. You should weight and compare the value of the cart or wheelbarrow against the cost. How is it made? When it is loaded… will it handle the job? Is it overkill? Paying top dollar does not always deliver the best product needs wise.

For many homeowners a traditional molded plastic wheelbarrow or garden cart sells for about $60 to $175. Heavy duty and motorized models move up in price from from there.

Space Requirements

Unless you own a fold-able or light weight model which can hang, you must also consider the space these garden tools take up. They are bulky, but they are a back and time saver. Consider where the cart or wheel barrow will be stored. The weather elements could influence the type of material it must be constructed from.

Planting and garden maintenance involves more than simply planting seedlings in the ground and pulling an occasional weed. It includes some physical work and at times aching muscles.

Moving bags of fertilizer, mulch, compost, potted plants, weeds, heavy garden ornaments, decorative stones and moving elaborate plants can rapidly put a strain on your back. This makes a gardening truck, lawn tractor or wheel barrow makes an essential item for working on your patio and a tool for the garden shed.

A wheelbarrow or garden truck plays many roles as basic garden equipment for any gardener. Numerous gardening tasks will not come as easy without the assistance of a wheelbarrow or garden cart.

Today, you can pick from a wide range of wheelbarrows and garden trucks. Also, there exist a great number of advancements in outline and some tools used to build these patio/nursery devices.

Wheelbarrow Versus Garden Carts

While wheelbarrows and garden trucks perform essentially the same job, they each hold their advantages and disadvantages.

Design And Utility

  • Wheelbarrows consist of inclining sides and 1 to 2 front wheels. You stroll behind the wheelbarrow, making it simple to control and move. This garden tool works conveniently for dump, manure, soil, weeds or rock.
  • On the other hand, garden trucks hold level bottoms and straight sides. You need to pull garden trucks, with two or more large, wheels. They appear steadier than wheelbarrows, and for the most part, they can deal with bigger loads like moving large pots, stones, etc. However, it may appear harder to move on non-smooth surfaces.
  • Heavy duty trucks seem appropriate with heavy loads and cumbersome work, for example, stones, wood pile, and those concrete garden trimmings. Some smaller patio or nursery trucks work exceptionally helpful, and they proved useful for carrying devices and pads of plants.
  • The smaller garden area trucks regularly accompany a top cover so that they can do twofold work as a spot sit.
  • Wheel barrows generally consist of a steel frame with a metal, poly tray or other durable plastic materials as a bucket and come with air-filled tires or metal wheels. Wheelbarrows also have two handles, garden trucks, and a solitary interfacing bar, much like a stroller handle.
  • Thin metal makes up cheap trucks, yet sturdier trucks come from a combined hard plastic or exterior grade plywood and metal. Trucks some of the time contain four straight sides. However, numerous trucks display an opening at the back. Trucks infrequently show inclining front sides, despite the fact that they sometimes look bent like wheelbarrows.

Stability While Transporting

  • Garden trucks look extensively steadier than wheelbarrows in light of their two-wheeled configurations, making them appropriate for transporting material over a rough landscape.
  • When you utilize a wheelbarrow, you should adjust the whole load on a solitary wheel, an accomplishment requiring a lot of patience and practice.
  • You can lose control and spill the whole load if the heap does not seem to spread in the wheelbarrow evenly.
  • A garden truck makes a better option for little kids, elderly and physically challenged nursery workers. Losing control of the truck seems to be smaller than wheelbarrows.
  • A decent quality patio/nursery truck is a critical venture, in any case, a straightforward wagon might be a superior option for the easy-going plant specialist.

Ease Of Moveability

Users can easily draw and push garden trucks. However, moving them makes a hard task, particularly along cramped ways and in small spaces.

  • If you need to push a truck along a straight road, you will encounter no issues. However, pivoting a patio truck can come as a troublesome effort.
  • A wheelbarrow, by correlation, works much simpler to turn since it only holds a solitary wheel to rotate and turn.
  • Turning an unfilled wheelbarrow feels much less difficult than turning a stacked wheelbarrow since you should precisely adjust the heap weight while turning.
  • Wheelbarrows make a more practical choice when it comes to limited, narrow spaced ways since you can tilt them easily from side to side to move through tight spaces.
hauling plants in a wheelbarrowPin

Things To consider While Buying A Garden Cart Or Wheelbarrow

  • Strength and size of the gardener: If you buy a heavy item and you can’t even lift its handle to pull it, then everything will go waste. Appropriate size will make the work easier.
  • The size of the garden: Consider the number of trips you need to do if you have a bigger garden. Also, always remember; the bigger the cart or wheelbarrow, the harder to pull and balance.
  • The topography of your land: Handling a wheelbarrow in bumpy lands makes a hard task. On the other hand, carts usually tend to move faster in steep lands.
  • The quality of the product: Always opt for the best built and sturdy wheel barrow. You should look for a good grip, and the plates should appear thick and sturdy to hold the load.
  • The material of the plates: Choose the right material for the plates. Metal or steel sits at the top choices regarding durability, and you need to maintain it yearly in the occurrence of rust and corrosion. Plastic also makes a good option due to its light weight but ensure the material consists of high-quality plastic. Among all choices, wood gives lesser durability as it gets easily damaged than plastic and metal.
  • Look for air filled tires as they make the motion easier and give more balance to the cart. In case the tire gets flat, you can easily fix it by using a regular tire pump. Metal tires won’t get flat, but they add more weight to the cart.
  • In advanced carts and wheelbarrows, you can opt gas or electric powered ones which will ease your task to a great extent.
  • Some carts and barrows come available with brakes which will help with the navigation in steep lands.
  • Folding wheelbarrows and carts work great for storage, and they will save a lot of space for other tools.

Tips for Shopping:

  • Carts often come with a choice of tire size and style (inner tube or solid, spoke wheel or not). Your conditions and the intended use are factors to consider when choosing tire type. Read the manufacturer site, or ask.
  • Though there are lookalikes in wooden carts, it sounds as if I am not alone in recommending the ones from Carts Vermont, which are sold in catalogs and at Amazon.
  • The Smart Cart I favor is also much copied, but the original is from Muller’s Garden Carts in Maine. It, too, be had in garden catalogs, or cheaper at the ubiquitous Amazon.
  • I don’t know if plastic-tub wheelbarrows were popular when I got my un-fancy red steel True Temper ages ago. If I ever need a new wheelbarrow, I’ll investigate those, thanks to the advice shared by my expert friends above.

Video of the Gorilla Cart A “Utility Wagon Garden Dump Cart”

The Little Extras

The little extras are features which set one product apart from another.

Big Wheels

Large wheels make operation much easier in navigating, hauling and overall ease of use. Some of the 2 wheel carts which you pull by hand have nice size “buckets” but small wheels making operation and maneuvering more difficult.


The less parts the better… bolts need tightening over time. Metal rusts where molded plastic or poly formed trays do not. Wood handles can rot over time – Are replacement parts available?

Easy Access

Some carts are designed with a drop-down front gate making it easier to fill and unload. This can be a big help when loading mulch, raking leaves or spreading compost.

Personal Preference Of A Good Wheelbarrow

The above items should help you in your buying wheelbarrow or cart buying decision, but let me leave you with my “buying” preference.

My preference has always been a 1 wheel model, a steel wheelbarrow frame holding 6 cubic feet, constructed of a durable molded poly bucket for most of the jobs I have need for.

The poly bucket or tray does not rust, is easy to clean and durable. It handles and hauls a wide range of durable materials.

The large pneumatic wheelbarrow wheel rolls smoothly, remains steady when filling and dumps easily. Apart from the pneumatic tires, they make a nice seat to take a break when needed.

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