At Cleeve Nursery, we understand that one kind of wheelbarrow cannot be right for every user, situation or job. We carry a range of wheelbarrows and are happy to advise you on your purchase, but here are some aspects you might like to consider.
The wheelbarrow is very simple idea: a container, handles for lifting and either one or two wheels for transporting. It can be a comfortable way of moving tools, pots of seedlings, clippings and grass cuttings, heaps of compost…but if you have experience in handling a wheelbarrow, you will know that a heavy, unwieldy load or uneven ground makes a traditional one-wheeled barrow more difficult to manoeuvre and prone to spills. When the wheel is positioned in front of the load, much of the weight falls on the user, so do consider your own strength against what you want to carry. The weight of the wheelbarrow itself can be an issue here.
If you are likely to be moving heavy or bulky items around the garden, stuff like clay pots, ornaments or stones, you’ll need something that is stable and not likely to tip – possibly a sack barrow or four-wheeled flatbed trolley would be more useful.
A two wheeled barrow can carry more weight and is better balanced, but the one wheel option tends to be lighter in weight and more manoeuvrable.
Wheel size is another factor to consider – larger wheels can make a weighty load easier to move. Some wheels are made of heavy-duty plastic that is quite solid, while others have a more flexible pneumatic tyre that can go flat – and that could mean another maintenance job.
Whichever you choose, you need to ensure that the wheel or wheels are sturdy and have good tyres. Some modern wheelbarrows even come with brakes.
Wheelbarrow bodies are usually made from either plastic or metal. Metal tends to be heavier, but is considered stronger than plastic, although modern plastics are very durable and can bear more weight. Plastic has the advantage of being rustproof.
However, although this equipment is usually treated and protected against weathering both plastic and metal barrows will erode over time if kept outside. So, where storage space is limited or for the small garden, there are fold-up wheelbarrows – a pivoted frame with a tough fabric bag slung across.
Handles are plastic or wooden, and although wooden handles look good, you should be prepared to sand them down and lacquer them at the end of the gardening year to keep them in good condition.