Wheelbarrows may not be the most exciting things in the world, but they are extremely valuable. If you tend to a garden during the hot summer months and need to move tons and tons of heavy, smelly materials like fertilizer or mulch, then a wheelbarrow can be a great tool to have.
Types of Wheelbarrows
This might come as a surprise to some people, but there is more than one type of wheelbarrow. Apart from the standard two-handle, one-wheel setup you’re most likely used to seeing, there are hill-use, hybrid, and electric types.
Despite being called “hill-use” wheelbarrows, this type isn’t exactly designed to be light on the arms and shoulders when rolling uphill. No manual wheelbarrow is; it’s just a title given to it to describe its lightweight frame. They can come in either one- or two-wheel models, the latter offering more support than the former when hauling mulch and other products up and downhill.
Hybrid wheelbarrows are a mixture of traditional and modern designs. The traditional wheelbarrow has a shallow tub that’s not fit to handle large loads of mulch, but this updated version – the hybrid – has a deeper tub and comes with one, two, or four wheels for better support and stability to hauling huge loads.
The most technologically advanced wheelbarrow to get would be the electric wheelbarrow. It’s the most expensive of the three, but with all of its features, it can be worth the extra cost. They typically come with 24V batteries and forward-reverse gears for easy travel. For those of you who are looking to avoid pulling your back muscles by pushing 200 pounds of mulch up and down hills, the electric wheelbarrow is for you.
Wheelbarrow for Mulch Buying Guide
Even though wheelbarrows aren’t tools that are exclusively used by gardeners, we’re going to focus on what you need to consider when looking for a wheelbarrow to help ease your gardening tasks, especially when transporting mulch.
Mulch-carrying wheelbarrows can be made of wood, plastic, or metal. In general, the sturdier the tub, the heavier the tub will be so if the tub can withstand carrying huge amounts of mulch, the tare weight of the wheelbarrow is something to consider. For carrying mulch, we recommend either plastic or metal tubs since moisture in the mulch can cause wooden wheelbarrows to rot. Plastic tubs are easier to clean and maintain compared to metal, but metal offers better support and typically has a greater weight capacity.
When looking at the tub, you need to understand how much mulch can fit in it. The average wheelbarrow can carry approximately ten cubic feet of any material in it before the tires, or the tub gives in. If you have experience playing Tetris, you may be able to pile up more than the manufacturer’s recommended volume, but you also need to be aware of the weight limits of the tool. The easiest way to decide how large a tub you need is by calculating how much mulch you plan on moving within a certain timeframe.
Every wheelbarrow model has its own unique weight capacities. It’s important that you read the fine details of a wheelbarrow before purchasing one since you don’t want to put too much pressure on the tires by surpassing their carrying capacities since they could either go flat or crack.
When considering the tires of a wheelbarrow, there are two factors you need to pay attention to. The first is the number of tires. There can be one, two, or four tires depending on the model and size of the tub. A single-tire wheelbarrow requires manually balancing the tub, so the contents don’t tip, unlike two- and four-tire models whose wheels do the balancing for you. However, single-tire wheelbarrows are easier to turn around and maneuver around corners. A two-tire model is better at keeping the contents of the tub from toppling over whereas a four-tire model is for those you would rather tow the wheelbarrow.
You also need to consider whether the wheelbarrow comes with pneumatic tires or plastic tires. Pneumatic tires are better at traveling across rocky, bumpy terrain since their wheels can sort of adjust their shape to the contour of whatever objects in their path. Plastic tires are better for traveling on paved roads, though threaded plastic tires can give enough traction to glide the wheelbarrow across grassy terrain.
The handles on a wheelbarrow let you push the contents of the tub with ease. The most common handles are made of wood and come with rubber grips. They offer enough leverage to let you dump the contents without too much fuss.
If you need a heavy-duty, four-tire wheelbarrow and don’t feel like pushing the unit to and from places, then find a model that comes with a single handle that can attach onto your ATV or lawn tractor. You can also manually tow the wheelbarrow behind you, but a full tub is just going to destroy your back and shoulder muscles.
This is a feature that’s not commonly found in wheelbarrows, but it does have its benefits. This rack is located either on the side(s) of the tub or between the handles. It’s used to store oddly shaped items, so you don’t have to overfill the tub. Some racks are strong enough to support a couple of extra bags of mulch.
When the wheelbarrow is not in motion, you’ll want a mechanism to stop it from rolling around or falling over. You could get away with placing a rock or a brick in front or behind the tire(s), but more modern wheelbarrows have built-in peg rests to stop the wheel from moving. Try and look for stainless steel rests which won’t bend or warp under extreme pressure.
A wheelbarrow can be an invaluable tool to have for construction workers and gardeners. Carrying large bags of cement or mulch from place to place is much easier if you have a wheelbarrow on hand. The latest models come with additional features that the wheelbarrow in your grandpa’s shed doesn’t, such as a larger tub, more tires, the ability to be towed (four-wheel models), additional racks for carrying oddly shaped items and rests to prevent the tires from spinning when not in use. If you’re looking to purchase a wheelbarrow to transport bags of mulch, then we recommend finding either a metal or plastic tub with a large weight and volume capacities.