How to choose a wheelbarrow - Which wheelbarrow to buy

There are so many options out there to choose from, but which one is right? They all tend to look very much alike!

What have you got, and what do you need to get? How do you ensure you have the right equipment for transforming your wintertime garden planning into springtime reality?

In a small garden, a wheelbarrow might only be occasionally useful, but on larger properties, one-wheeled wheelbarrows are virtually essential.

If you are heading out to shop for a wheelbarrow this weekend, it is more than likely that you will have a variety of options available. So on what basis should you make a decision on the best wheelbarrow?

To help you we have given a breakdown of the basics:


There are still a few vintage wood wheelbarrow models out there, but for the most part, wheelbarrow buckets are now made of either steel or plastic.

Steel construction is the most common and can handle different and varied loads of weight. The material is liable to rust though, although galvanised and powder-coated versions delay this from happening but still take care to store your steel wheelbarrow out of the elements.

Plastic construction is easier on your back (and your wallet) and is best suited for light gardening. Though it won’t rust, plastic may crack under the weight of heavy loads or as a result of extreme cold.

There are a few “foldable” canvas models available too, and while these designs are handy for gardeners with scant storage space, they are not always appropriate for the most demanding of garden work.


Traditional handles provide the most manoeuvrability and make for the easiest tilting, flipping, and dumping—but they require more hand strength. Closed handles and single-bar grips are ergonomically superior and make pulling and pushing easier. Where a single-bar wheelbarrow can be used comfortably by almost anyone, the traditional two-handled design is more difficult for people with narrow shoulders for example.


Wheelbarrows in the UK tend to come in the capacity of the body / Tray / Bucket in litres. Generally, these are 85L or 110L. We recommend not only to consider the capacity depending on what you intend to haul around in your barrow. We also suggest considering the width of the wheelbarrow as you will definitely become unstuck if the wheelbarrow will not go through your garden gate.



The traditional wheelbarrow has one wheel positioned at the front and centre. The tripod design makes the wheelbarrow easy to manoeuvre and empty, but it requires greater strength to control properly. The ball wheel has no real benefit other than the wheelbarrow's street cred. The two-wheel upfront look gives greater stability (helpful with heavy or awkwardly balanced loads). Although beneficial for a larger load you sacrifice a degree of manoeuvrability, and the two-wheel models do not work very well on hills.


Pneumatic wheelbarrow tyres have an inner tube that you pump up like bicycle or car tyres. That air serves as a shock absorber, giving the wheelbarrow a smoother comfortable feel and making it easier to manage. But like all tyres with inner tubes, a pneumatic wheelbarrow tyre is susceptible to rough terrain, puncture and can pop. You will also need to keep an eye on the tyre’s air pressure because it will eventually go flat without maintenance. Bear in mind that the maximum psi is not recommended target to inflate to, it is a limit and not ideal for normal wheelbarrow use.

Non-pneumatic tyres or puncture-proof tyres are solid rubber or foam-filled tyres. They will not pop or go flat, but they will not feel as smooth or comfortable to pull or push. There is a compromise tyre that exists in the form of a semi-pneumatic tyre—a rubber tyre with air pockets built in. This in-between type of tyre offers some shock absorption but does not require any inflation.

Wheelbarrows may look very much alike, but there are actually quite a few differences between them. When shopping, think about your terrain and what sort of task you will be undertaking when using the wheelbarrow. Factor in the maintenance required and where you are going to store it.