Wheelbarrows! Why so many options? Why can’t it be simple?
Plastic tub? Metal tub?
Is a two wheeled garden cart better?
Wheelbarrow Logic from Mike McGroarty.
Here’s my take on wheelbarrows, from a guy that has made his living for the better part of 40 years using wheelbarrows.
In my very opinionated, opinion there’s really only one brand of wheelbarrow on the market. Jackson. The Jackson wheelbarrow is by far the choice of contractors everywhere, and no, the Jackson Wheelbarrow company is not paying me for this endorsement. It’s just that I’ve used and or owned them all and they’ve all disappointed me, all except the Jackson.
Many of the others are imitations that are poorly designed.
I’ll never buy a two wheel wheelbarrow and this is why:
1. Can’t push it up a 2 by 12 ramp if I need to get into a bed, into the back of a truck, over a ditch etc. When I am working I often use a 2 by 12 as a ramp to get up into a raised planting bed, or if I have to dump debris into the back of a trailer. Being able to wheelbarrow up a ramp is a valuable attribute that only a single wheel wheelbarrow can do.
2. Two wheels is just more resistance on the ground. Pushing a wheelbarrow is difficult enough, I surely don’t want another ounce of resistance as I do so.
3. Pushing a wheelbarrow is like flying a plane. As soon as you add a second wheel you are no longer flying or gliding around the corners. When you have two wheels you literally have to circle the wheelbarrow to make turn. Think about that. You have to walk in a wide circle to make a turn.
4. Over the years I’ve probably spread over 5,000 yards of mulch. With one wheel you can squeeze between two shrubs and not touch either one of them. You’ll never do that with a wheelbarrow that has two wheels.
Plastic wheelbarrows are great for mulch, but they really, really stink for soil or sand. When you pick up a heavy load in a plastic wheelbarrow the barrel will flex just a little bit and you will tweak your back as you try to catch the wheelbarrow from tipping. I promise you this happens with all plastic wheelbarrows. I’ve owned a few, hated them all.
Those really nice looking, rugged looking wheelbarrows with the big wide front tire? I bought two of them. Seriously a terrible mistake. I should have bought two Jackson and I should have known better!
1. They flex just as I described.
2. That big fat tire cannot be inflated to the point of being hard. No matter what, it’s still spongy, which is like pushing a wheelbarrow uphill all day long. When using a wheelbarrow the tire must be inflated to the point of being really hard, if it’s not the resistance is increased dramatically.
3. First time we used those fancy shmancy plastic wheelbarrows one of them broke! We loaded it with topsoil, tried to move it and the handle snapped right off! Brand new, $140 wheelbarrow. It’s still laying on it’s side with a broken handle. Unbelievable!
Update! Update! Update!
Eventually one handle broke on each of these plastic wheelbarrows. All four handles would have broken but once you break one handle you can no longer use the wheelbarrow. That’s the only reason the other two handles didn’t break. The manufacture used cheap softwood instead of a good quality hardwood. I replaced all four handles with good quality handles.
Then the lip snapped off of the front one of the wheelbarrows while I was using it. The plastic just snapped! Then it happened to the other one!
Replacing the handles on a wheelbarrow is expensive and time consuming! Only to have the tub crack and break??? Yeah! I’m frustrated and not at all happy with the orange wheelbarrows!
In all fairness to other plastic wheelbarrow manufactures I used to have a “red” plastic wheelbarrow that I had for so long the sun faded it and it turned “pink”. Yeah, I took some flack because I had a “pink wheelbarrow”. But that wheelbarrow, I think it was an Ames, held up for a long, long time. The handles did not break nor did the plastic tub.
I’m not a big fan of plastic wheelbarrows for topsoil, sand or concrete because the tubs flex, and that’s really hard on your back when that happens, but at least my “Pink Ames Wheelbarrow” held up as it should and it was awesome for moving mulch.
Wheelbarrow Tricks and Tips
I’m going to give you some tips on how to properly use a wheelbarrow to make your life easier and how not to hurt your back.
First, you have to start out with a good wheelbarrow.
Construction wheelbarrows like the Jackson wheelbarrow (not a plug) is well built and heavy duty.
When shopping for a wheelbarrow it is very important to see where the tire is located in relation to the tub. You want the wheel and axle to be under the tub to carry the weight of the load. On some wheelbarrows you will notice that the tire sets out in front and all the weight ends up on your hands.
Now when loading your wheelbarrow, you can put as much in as it can hold, but before you take off through the yard, use a shovel to redistribute the contents of the tub towards the front, giving most of the weight to the wheel and leaving you and your back with the lighter end of the wheelbarrow.
Oh, and this video. You should watch this video.
Questions or comments? Post them below.