Always useful, whether you’re weeding, transporting plants or moving heavy landscape materials, a wheelbarrow is a valuable addition to a gardener’s tool shed. Typically single wheeled with a metal tray, many different sizes, styles and materials of barrow are also available, from 100% recycled plastic to two wheeled barrows.
The type of wheelbarrow you need will depend on the jobs you do most so before you choose, think about the main jobs you need it for. If you regularly do just lightweight gardening tasks then a plastic, shallow barrow should suffice but the heavier, bulkier the loads, the more demand you’ll put on both the tray and wheels.
We reviewed a range of the most popular wheelbarrows on the market, putting them through their paces in the garden throughout 2021, to bring you a list of the best wheelbarrows.
Each model has a detailed list of pros and cons for clarity and has been rated according to ease of use, comfort, performance, and value for money. Each wheelbarrow below has scored a minimum of four out of five stars, so you can buy with confidence.
If you’re planting or lifting and dividing plants, see our review of the best garden spades, or if you’re pruning, take a look at our review of the best secateurs and the best loppers. For more help composting see our review of the best compost bins.
How to choose a wheelbarrow
Before you buy think about the following:
- Size. Wheelbarrow capacity varies and is usually given in litres, although weight limits, given in kilogrammes can also be stated. Capacity tells you how big a load a barrow can handle but be sure to take into account your own strength and how much you can lift and carry comfortably. Check the dimensions of your garden, particularly if it’s smaller, including the width of gateways and any narrow alleys you may need to push it down.
- Wheels. A typical barrow has just one wheel positioned towards the front of the tray but wheelbarrows can also have two, even four. Traditional one wheeled barrows are easier to manoeuvre around the garden and to lift and empty but they can tip over easily, particularly when turning with a heavy load or if filled unevenly. Two wheeled barrows are less likely to topple over but can be less nimble and harder to turn and lift and dump.
- Tyres. These can be solid rubber, plastic or pneumatic. Solid rubber or plastic wheels can’t puncture or go flat but they are not as smooth in use as an air filled tyre and can struggle on very rough ground. Pneumatic, air-filled tyres can puncture or start to go flat and need regular pumping up but if kept well pumped up will they are lighter and give a much more comfortable, cushioned ride over bumps and uneven ground.
- Materials. Trays are usually made from either plastic or steel and which is best depends on how much weight you can handle and what you’re lifting. Steel trays are tough and can handle more weight than plastic but they are susceptible to rust (unless there’s a rust-resistant coating) and are heavy. They are great for transporting bricks, rocks and large plants. Plastic trays are light and often cheaper than metal barrows. They can split under heavy loads, bend and scratch easily but are ideal for shifting prunings, weeds and compost.
- Handles. A classic wheelbarrow has two handles, which should be long enough to easily push, lift and tip. Ergonomic bar type handles are easier on the arms when pushing but have less leverage when dumping a load. Look for grips which help to protect the hands and will make the barrow easier to push and lift. Soft rubber or plastic with ridges and grip are both comfortable and stop hands slipping but check they’re fitted firmly.
How to lift safely
Before loading the wheelbarrow, position it in the direction you plan to push so you don’t need to lift it and immediately turn. If you’re working on a hill point the barrow either up or down the slope before loading or the barrow will topple over. Load the tray evenly but with the majority of the weight towards the front, over the wheel, so that it’s easier to lift. Always lift a barrow with bent knees and straight arms and don’t be tempted to over fill it despite the capacity it is capable of carrying – lift only what you are comfortable with.
Best wheelbarrows at a glance
Browse our pick of the best wheelbarrows below.
Five of the best wheelbarrows
Our rating: 4.5 out of 5
- Great eco credentials
- Light and nimble
- Funneled tray for easy tipping
- Well designed
- Handles lack grip
This lightweight barrow is quick and simple to put together taking just 20 minutes. Both the frame and steel are made from surprisingly strong, 100% recycled polypropylene and nylon and it has a sturdy pneumatic tyre which gives a smooth, cushioned ride over all ground. It has two, u-shaped tipping bars for good stability when lifting and dumping the load and has some great extra features. The 70 litre capacity UV-resistant tray is deep and funnelled to make tipping really easy and also allows it to fit in between plants in beds and borders. The feet have grips on the base to keep the barrow stable and the handles have been ergonomically shaped to fit the hand, although they are smooth and so lack the extra grip other barrows have. It’s at the top of the price scale for barrows in our test but it’s great quality, long lasting and comes with a five year warranty. It was awarded a BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine Best Buy for Best All Round Barrow in our review.
Read the full Lasher Ecobarrow review
Vonhaus 78L Wheelbarrow
Our rating: 4.5 out of 5
- Surprisingly lightweight
- Nimble and easy to use
- Simple to tip
- Well balanced
- Tricky assembly
With two wheels, a steel frame and plastic tray this wheelbarrow is surprisingly lightweight. Despite the double wheels it’s also nimble and copes easily with awkward corners and they actually help to stabilise the barrow even when the 78 litre tray is fully loaded. Awarded a BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine Best Buy for Stability the pneumatic tyres give a smooth, cushioned ride, even over stony ground.
It is fiddly to assemble, particularly to attach the tray and the instructions are confusing but once it’s built it’s well designed and made from good quality materials. The looped handle is a great feature, which unlike the typical two handles on a traditional barrow, allows you to push and steer with just one hand. Emptying the barrow is also easy and it has a soft grip on the handle for extra comfort. It comes with a two year warranty.
Read the full Vonhaus 78 litre wheelbarrow review
Draper Garden Caddy
Our rating: 4.5 out of 5
- Lightweight but sturdy and balanced
- Easy to use and lift into green bin or compost heap
- Good capacity for prunings and weeds
- Wheels struggle over rough ground
Easy to put together despite a slightly unclear manual, this lightweight, basket-style barrow is ideal if storage space is limited and was awarded a BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine Best Buy for Small Gardens. Made from sturdy plastic it has a useful tool clip to help you keep a broom or rake handy and feels well balanced with solid plastic wheels. It has a 65 litre capacity but is best for lighter loads, and it struggles over rough or wet grass. The handle may be a little low for taller users but we love it’s simple, easy to fill and empty design and think it’s great for pulling alongside you as you weed and prune. It comes with a generous lifetime warranty.
Read the full Draper Garden Caddy review
Walsall Endurance Black Steel Heavy Duty Wheelbarrow
Our rating: 4 out of 5
- Solid and strong
- Balanced and easy to manoeuvre
- Sturdy wheel
- Ready to go
- Wide for narrow alleys and gates
- Signs of rust
No assembly is needed for this steel wheelbarrow, which arrives ready to go and it feels sturdy and stable in use. It’s comfortable, with plastic hand grips to prevent slipping and help you feel in control and the strong pneumatic wheel gives a smooth ride and is easy to push and turn. The tray is comparatively wide, so it’s worth checking this width if you have an alleyway or gate to manoeuvre it through and the steel did start to show signs of rust after a few months in our test. However, it’s more than capable of dealing with ordinary gardening tasks as well as carrying heavy loads of compost or gravel and has a generous 85 litre capacity.
Draper Galvanised 65L wheelbarrow
Our rating: 4 out of 5
- Well balanced and comfortable
- Shallow tray
- Signs of rust
This simple, basic wheelbarrow is ideal for everyday gardening jobs rather than construction or landscaping work. It’s easy to assemble, taking about 30 minutes to put together and feels well balanced and comfortable to push with good soft grips on the handles. The barrow also stands up well when not in use. It feels robust although it did show signs of wear and tear as well as rust after our year’s test and the 65 litre capacity tray, at just 22cm deep is shallower than other models. It has a pneumatic tyre and replacement wheels are available. It comes with a generous lifetime warranty.
How we tested wheelbarrows
To see which wheelbarrows could cope with the demands of a range of gardening tasks, the BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine team tested different wheelbarrows throughout 2021, observing how they fared carrying prunings and weeds, lugging compost and bricks and generally lightening the load as they worked around the garden. They were assessed according to the following criteria with equal marks attributed to each:
- Ease of Use. We looked at assembly, weight, material and design including manoeuvrability, wheel, balance and stability.
- Comfort. This assessed how comfortable it is to push and lift, the length of handles and any ergonomics and grips.
- Performance. We focussed on strength, sturdiness and rust resistance and the maximum weight limit.
- Value for Money. Considered all of the above plus any special features, RRP and warranty.
For more information on our testing process see How we Review
This review was last updated in November 2021. We apologise if anything has changed in price or availability.