Ah, the common wheelbarrow – such an incredibly useful garden staple to speed up jobs and spare the ol’ back from arduous heavy lifting!
It’s undeniably a vital piece of garden equipment, but there are a surprising number of different wheelbarrow designs out there to choose from – some well-suited to garden pottering, and others better equipped for commercial use.
When trying to find the best wheelbarrow for your specific needs, it can be hard to know what to look out for and what to avoid; take a look at the following tips to help you make an informed purchase.
Choosing a Suitable Capacity
The best wheelbarrows are available in a range of sizes, with capacities to suit almost any task.
Smaller wheelbarrows are obviously less practical when it comes to transporting garden waste, but they more than make up for this with good manoeuvrability and ease of storage. You may need to consider what is more important to you: being able to complete a job in the least trips possible, or being able pack away or transport your wheelbarrow with ease.
Maximum weight load is also something to look out for. Smaller steel wheelbarrows will likely be able to carry more weight than a large-yet-flimsy plastic one! Sometimes it’s better to buy a smaller wheelbarrow of better quality, than buy something bigger for the same price and find that it breaks after a short time.
A large wheelbarrow will of course allow you transport more garden waste; however, you should consider both its maximum weight capacity and your own strength. Large wheelbarrows, filled to capacity, can be unwieldy and extremely heavy. If you can manage this, then great! But it’s something to think about before purchasing – you may not be able to use a bigger wheelbarrow to its full capacity anyway!
For most gardening tasks, a capacity of between 80 to 120 L is should be adequate for most circumstances.
Selecting the Correct Wheel Type
The wheels on the wheelbarrow are another important thing to consider.
In general, you want to look for sturdy wheels that are able to easily take the weight of heavy loads.
If you’re working on very uneven terrain, for example doing building work, you might want to choose a wheel with a wider width so that it can spread the load better and a pneumatic tyre that won’t puncture.
Pneumatic wheels makes it easier to move loads over uneven surfaces, so these are well-suited to use on difficult ground. However, they can go flat and need to be re-inflated, or puncture. Which is just something to be aware of.
For infrequent wheelbarrow use, you’ll likely find a solid tire is more practical; these don’t deflate over time like a pneumatic wheel and can be left in the shed or garage for years, ready for use at the drop of a hat.
When buying a wheelbarrow, you’ll also have a choice of either one or two wheels. This won’t make much difference to the load capacity, but it’s still worth considering. One wheel will make the wheelbarrow a lot easier to turn and navigate, but it’s more likely to tip over if overloaded than a two-wheel model
Wheelbarrows with two wheels are sturdy, but due to the wider wheel base, and inability to pivot, they can be difficult to manoeuvre.
The Best Material for Your Wheelbarrow
Wheelbarrows are usually made from either plastic or galvanised steel.
Steel is far stronger than plastic, meaning even smaller steel wheelbarrows will likely have a larger weight capacity than bigger plastic models.
However, plastic wheelbarrows can still be very strong and durable provided they have a strong steel frame for support. They also won’t rust, dent or distort like some metal models.
Galvanised steel wheelbarrows with solid steel skids are heavier, so this is also worth keeping in mind – you’ll likely already be shifting heavy loads so may not want to add the weight of a dense wheelbarrow on top of that!
While more durable, galvanised steel wheelbarrows might be more prone to rust if not properly maintained.
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