A wheelbarrow is a transporter, which normally has one wheel, sometimes two wheels. The wheelbarrow body consists of a tray (bed) that is attached to two handles and two legs. This device is mostly used for carrying small loads for the gardener, or for the construction worker.
The wheelbarrow is designed in a special way to balance the weight of the load between the wheel and the operator. The device allows the convenient movement of heavy and bulky weights, which would be impossible to carry solely by the worker.
The wheelbarrow has its roots in ancient China, as the devices are mentioned in historical papers from 100 BC. The primitive version of the wheelbarrow consisted of a large single wheel at the end of a platform. The weight would be positioned behind the wheel, where the worker would lift the heavy end of the device and push it forward.
The word wheelbarrow is a combination of ‘wheel’ and ‘barrow’. The ‘barrow’ comes from the Old English ‘bearwe’, which is the name of the ancient device used for carrying heavy weights.
Nowadays, wheelbarrows are considered a necessity in the gardener’s backyard and construction industry works. As I mentioned before, the wheelbarrow usually has one or two wheels. However, these days, some manufacturers produce models with four wheels.
Gardeners use wheelbarrows to decrease the pressure on their backs while moving heavy loads such as soil. Wheelbarrows can also be used when planting a large garden – the plant trays will fit perfectly into the tray of the wheelbarrow.
As well as reducing strain on the back of the gardener, using a wheelbarrow saves time with fewer back and forth trips required. Wheelbarrows are especially good for weeding. The device can be easily moved between the rows of the garden, allowing you to load up and then dump the weeds in a different location.
Another great use of wheelbarrows is for loading and moving the sticks that are lying in the yard in order to prevent damage to the lawnmower’s blade. Some gardeners also use old wheelbarrows as permanent trays for plants!
Where in the past, wheelbarrows were normally used for the garden, these days people use them for a variety of purposes. Wheelbarrows are used at home, in the garden, in construction works, masonry, roadwork and more.
Workers use the wheelbarrows to move supplies, tools, debris and other heavy materials from one place to another with minimum effort.
Some models of wheelbarrows allow you to move bricks, cement, and topsoil, without putting much stress on your back.
When your wheelbarrow gets old or rusty (which by the way can happen in up to 20 years), you can use it as a planter. Broken, cracked, or just old wheelbarrows that are no longer good for transporting purposes, can make amazing garden planters!
Just place the soil into the wheelbarrow’s tray and plant the desired flowers or fruit or vegetable plants.
Such use of wheelbarrows is also convenient in the way that you can move the wheelbarrow around so the plants get better sunlight.
Bellow I go through a list of the main parts of every wheelbarrow:
The wheelbarrow consists of a tray (bed) that is made of steel, plastic, or wood. Then, there's a steel support that connects the tray to the steel legs and to a steel or plastic wheel, which has a rubber tire around it.
The bowl of a wheelbarrow is where you place the load that is to be transported. The sides of the tray usually curve upward to hold the load that is being moved inside. Also, the tray is normally longer on the sides than it is at the ends.
The wheel of a wheelbarrow is placed under the front end of the bowl. Such positioning gives a wheelbarrow more maneuverability and allows you to dump the loads easier, especially in the case of a one-wheeled cart.
The wheel is made of a solid rubber or can have an inner tube like a bicycle or car tire. Wheelbarrow tires that have inner tube are usually wider and thus easier to use in soft, muddy or sandy soil.
The tire is usually made of natural or synthetic rubber. There are three main types of wheelbarrow tires: pneumatic, semi-pneumatic and non-pneumatic.
This type of wheelbarrow tires features an inner, air-filled tube that can be inflated like a bicycle tire.
Pneumatic wheelbarrow tires are beneficial due to their ability to absorb shock. This provides a smoother experience and is especially advantageous when transporting on steps or rocks.
However, pneumatic wheelbarrow wheel tires require additional maintenance. The air pressure in tubes needs to be checked occasionaly and sometimes they can go flat if used in the wrong way.
Semi-pneumatic wheelbarrow tires have built-in air pockets that have some of the shock-absorbent properties of pneumatic tires. But these tires have an advantage over the pneumatic ones since they do not require much of maintenance: you don’t have to worry about inflating them.
This type of wheelbarrow wheel tires are made from solid rubber and have no air tubes inside. Therefore, these tires cannot go flat, making them perfect for the rough terrain or for work in extreme temperatures. However, this kind of tires does not have cushioning properties, which makes them a little hard on the road.
There is also a type of flat-free wheelbarrow tire that is made of solid polyurethane foam. The special construction of the tire makes it bouncy and easy to maneuvere.
The handles of a wheelbarrow extend from the opposite end of the tray from where the wheel is placed.
They are normally made from metal with grips made of plastic or special foam. Some of the wheelbarrows have solid wooden handles with no grips. These kind of wheelbarrows are intended for home gardening.
The handles of the wheelbarrow are extended at a distance that provides leverage when the tray is loaded and tilted upward.
Below, I give you a short overview of the different types of wheelbarrow to help you choose one that's suitable for your needs.
The most basic wheelbarrow comes with a single wheel. It is very easy to maneuver and unload. However, it requires more upper body strength to operate than a wheelbarrow with two wheels.
Motorized wheelbarrows allow you to transport loads with maximum convenience and minimum effort. However, they also come with a hefty price tag and normally need more maintenance in case of breakage.
Nevertheless, if you find it difficult to push heavy weights, the power wheelbarrow or gasoline wheelbarrow is a great option.
Gasoline wheelbarrows were invented in order to simplify the process of transporting particularly heavy loads.
This type of wheelbarrow uses a gasoline engine that drives the front wheel via a friction drive transmission mechanism.
The system is specifically adapted to provide the wheelbarrow with power to go either forward or to reverse.
Gasoline wheelbarrows are really useful in construction and agricultural projects. They are able to haul concrete, wood, bricks, fertilizer, crops and much, much more.
However, gasoline wheelbarrows must be used with caution, since gasoline is a fire and explosive hazard. Moreover, gasoline is produces carbon monoxide gas that can be fatal if the work area is not ventilated properly.
Gas powered wheelbarrows are high-quality carts that are equipped with gas engines.
Electric wheelbarrows run on batteries. They have the same advantages as other motorized wheelbarrows. But they're also much quieter and can be used indoors, unlike gasoline wheelbarrows.
They tend to have a very long battery life. And some of the electric wheelbarrows act like small dump trucks with electric dumping mechanisms!
This type of wheelbarrow resembles a standard garden cart. The dual wheel wheelbarrow provides more stability than a single wheeled device. And this comes in especially handy when working with unbalanced or heavy loads.
However, double wheel wheelbarrow do have some drawbacks. One of the key ones: less manoeuvrability in comparison with one wheel models. Also, they are not so convenient if you are transporting loads across an inclined surface.
Folding or collapsible wheelbarrows are perfect when you need a device that can be stored in a small space.
Many of the folding wheelbarrows are a kind of canvas sling strung between two bars. This construction is then attached to a single wheel.
This kind of wheelbarrow can collapse into a thin shape that is similar to an umbrella stroller.
Despite the fact that folding wheelbarrows have canvas instead of a traditional tray, they are still pretty strong and are able to haul fairly heavy loads.
This type of wheelbarrow is great for people with small yards. Moreover, collapsible wheelbarrows can be a perfect fit for professional landscapers, since they don't take up too much space in the truck.
Heavy duty wheelbarrows are specifically created for transportation of the heaviest loads, as they have the highest carrying capacity. These wheelbarrows are able to perform the tasks that require the maximum amount of effort.
The manufacturers of heavy duty wheelbarrows create the products with very durable designs, thus making them a great tool for industrial and commercial use.
Wheelbarrows for kids come in different materials, shapes, and sizes. However, it is just a miniature version of the standard adult wheelbarrow. These kind of wheelbarrows allow kids to take an active part of work in the garden and enjoy some family time.
As I mentioned before, in the past, wheelbarrows were made only from wood. However, now, wooden wheelbarrows are less popular, given the advantages of steel and plastic.
Nevertheless, people still use different kinds of wheelbarrows – wooden, plastic, or metal. Let's look at these materials in more detail.
Wooden wheelbarrows were very popular in the past. However with the advancement of technology, plastic and steel wheelbarrows started to take over.
Some gardeners still favour wooden wheelbarrows – in summer they can grow flowers in it, while in fall and spring they can use it in a traditional way – for moving various loads.
Normally, wooden wheelbarrows are made from three different types of wood. The round parts of wheels are made of hickory since this wood is very flexible and can be bent easily when steamed.
Frame, pillars and wheel hubs consist of ash because this wood is strong and flexible enough to take a hit. And for the tray or box, manufacturers usually use poplar.
These types of wood are very light and provide great maneuverability to the device.
Since plastic is much lighter than metal, a lot of gardeners favor plastic wheelbarrows over steel ones. However, the plastic ones are not as durable and tough as their metal counterparts.
Plastic wheelbarrows are sometimes preferred by buyers since they do not rust. And the price of plastic wheelbarrows is also lower than steel wheelbarrows.
However, this does not mean that by buying a plastic wheelbarrow you will save money – steel wheelbarrows usually last twice as long as the plastic ones do. So, in the end, it's more a matter of what your needs and preferences are and what kind of work you intend to carry out with this device.
The plastic trays are normally made from Polypropylene or Polyethylene.
These materials are perfectly suited to corrosive loads such as fertilizer or animal compost.
Moreover, trays made from plastic are popular for concreting since dried concrete can be easily removed from the tray.
As a matter of fact, polyethylene trays provide superior strength and better impact resistance over polypropylene ones.
Some of the poly wheelbarrows feature additional tray baseplates, or shock boards, that are molded into the base in order to provide extra support and strength. These types of wheelbarrows are very useful for the transportation of heavy rubble or any other material that can damage the bottom of the tray.
Wheelbarrows made of steel are able to handle anything from light to heavy loads and they usually last for decades, according to industry experts. Steel wheelbarrows have a lot of advantages. To name a few: they are tough, will not break from exposure to extreme temperatures and will not fall apart from the weight of a load being thrown into it.
Even though metal tends to rust in the long-run, you can prevent rusting by taking proper care of your steel wheelbarrow. One of the key things to remember – do not leave your wheelbarrow exposed to the elements and also treat it from time to time.
However, if your wheelbarrow gets rusty, it is still functional!
The only drawback of a steel wheelbarrow is its weight. If you don’t have enough upper body strength, it might be hard to control the device.
There are two types of steel tray on the market:
Powder Coated Steel is suitable for a wide range of uses. This type of steel is resistant to constant UV exposure. Moreover, it provides higher resistance to damage and abuse than its plastic counterpart.
Galvanized Steel offers a higher level of rust resistance. Industry experts recommend this type of steel for the transportation of bricks and other building materials that can scratch and/or damage a powder steel tray.
Here I'll describe dome of the most prominent manufacturers of wheelbarrows.
True Temper is a brand of multinational corporation Ames True Temper that has its headquarters in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, USA. The Corporation is a wholly owned subsidiary of Griffon Corporation. Ames True Temper specializes in the manufacture of non-powered lawn and garden products.
The company claims that its products provide novel twists on classic tools and designs. The firm develops and tests its products in order to ensure the highest quality. Moreover, True Temper tools are constantly being redesigned and rebuilt to keep up with the latest innovations in the industry.
True Temper create steel and poly wheelbarrows. Steel wheelbarrows from True Temper are durable and strong, as they are engineered to withstand heavy use.
The company produces four different models of steel wheelbarrows.
As for the poly True Temper wheelbarrows, the company claims to produce lightweight and rustproof items. You can find 8 different models of poly True Temper wheelbarrows.
Jackson became a part of Ames companies family in 1999. The AMES Companies, Inc was acquired by Griffon Corporation back in 2010.
Ames corporation handles business according to high standards and uses only the best quality components and products for their items. They source the components from various parts of the world and claim to meet the highest standards of safety and social responsibility.
Jackson Professional tools are provide several styles of wheelbarrows that are designed to carry bigger loads. Moreover, Jackson wheelbarrows are perfect for work over uneven terrain. They also produce steel and poly wheelbarrows.
WORX is a brand of lawn and garden tools that is owned and distributed by the Positec Tool Corporation. The Positec Tool Corporation is based in China and has American headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The brand is mostly known for its lawn and garden tools, including trimmers, lawn mowers, chainsaws, and wheelbarrows. WORX tools are built on the values of performance, technology, and innovation. The manufacturer engineers products with superior power and functions.
Rubbermaid is an American manufacturer and supplier of household products. The company is a subsidiary of the Newell Brands Corporation. The tools engineered by Rubbermaid are tough, as they are designed to outperform.
Rubbermaid makes contractor wheelbarrows that support heavy weights while still being highly functional.
Moreover, the manufacturer states that Rubbermaid wheelbarrows are easy to use and are very durable.
Truper is a Mexican company that specializes in the hardware industry. They produce wheelbarrows, shovels, long handle tools, hammers, mattocks, and axes.
The brand claims to supply only the highest quality tools to the market while being one of the leading brands in the world. As a matter of fact, Truper is the world’s second largest wheelbarrow manufacturer.
Truper produces a variety of wheelbarrow models, including steel, poly and kids wheelbarrows. Their wheelbarrows are very sturdy and are able to transport significant weights.
A quote by Albert Einstein states: “The definition of genius is taking the complex and making it simple.”
That is exactly what happened when people invented the wheelbarrow – a miracle of engineering. The fact that the wheelbarrow was used hundreds of years ago and is still used now says it all.
A wheelbarrow is a must have for every landscaper and gardener. It is also a necessity for anyone that transports loads on a regular basis.
In addition, a wheelbarrow is a savior for your back, since lifting heavy weights is never good for one’s spine, muscles and joints.
While in the old days people were limited to just one simple wooden wheelbarrow, now the choice is overwhelming.
You can choose from wooden, steel, plastic, one-wheeled, two-wheeled, motorized and much more. In one way this richness of the choice is great. But in other ways, it creates problems. How do you choose the right wheelbarrow for your specific needs?
Well, read on and I'll show you how to make sure you choose the right wheelbarrow for you in my Best wheelbarrow Buying Guide.