All gardeners need a wheelbarrow or garden cart. There are so many occasions when you need to transport items around the garden, stable yard or building site. Many items are bulky but light, others can be much heavier. Essential for use in gardens and large vegetable patches, garden carts can be used to transport tools, grass cuttings and soil. From basic two-wheeled hand trolleys to four-wheeled tilting models, your choice of garden cart will depend on what you will be using it for. Read on to find the right garden cart for you.

What is the difference? – wheelbarrow or garden cart?

A garden cart typically has vertical sides and a horizontal tray. Garden carts are usually fitted with four wheels and are designed to be pulled. Some garden carts can be attached to a lawn mower or small motorized tractor. Garden carts usually have large pneumatic wheels that are suitable for smooth surfaces and rougher ‘off-road’ surfaces. They can be more difficult to maneuver than wheelbarrows on uneven surfaces.

The wheelbarrow pans / trays / tubs (the name varies by manufacturer) are usually oblong in shape. The sides will slope to facilitate tipping. Wheelbarrows are pushed from behind and are easier to control and maneuver unless they are very heavily laden, or the center of gravity of the load is too high.  A wheelbarrow usually has one wheel though some will have two. A two wheel barrow is not as nimble as a wheelbarrow with one wheel but may be more stable when tipping. Some barrows have a rounded nose which means they can be tipped at any angle whereas flat nosed barrows can only be tipped forwards.

What to take into account before making your choice

Weight of load – think about the weight of a typical load. Are you moving bricks which are dense and heavy? or are you moving garden waste which is bulky but light?

Space – will you be working in a limited space? or are there access limitations e.g a narrow doorway or gateway? Always make sure your barrow or cart will fit through your narrowest space.

Capability of user  – if you have mobility issues it may be easier to pull a cart rather than push a wheelbarrow. To load items into a wheelbarrow they will have to be lifted higher than when using a garden cart.

Size –only chose a large heavy cart or barrow if you have the strength to move it. If you will be working in a large area you may be tempted to buy bigger than you can handle.

  • metal is strong but will rust, galvanised metal will offer protection to the metal but ultimately you may need to paint the metal. Metal trays can be affected by toxic substances and if used in a stableyard are likely to be affected by animal waste
  • Plastic trays are lighter, and more weather proof, but are not as strong as metal trays.  Plastic is more resistant to some toxics, e.g. animal waste, that may eat into metal trays. 

Tyres – Pneumatic tyres absorb undulations in the terrain but can puncture, puncture proof pneumatic tyres are available. Solid tyres won’t puncture but the ride will not be as smooth or as easy when on rough terrain.

A metal barrow is more suited to heavy loads. A plastic barrow will be slightly lighter than a metal barrow of the same volume, so you could chose a slightly larger (volume) plastic barrow and not have to push any more weight than the smaller metal barrow.

A plastic barrow is much better suited for use in a stable yard as it is mainly used to move straw / shavings / hay which are bulky and light and will not be corroded by horse waste.

Then consider what you are capable of moving. If you are not capable of pushing a large barrow with a full load there is no point in buying a large barrow. A smaller or lighter barrow would make much more sense.

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