Tools & Equipment

The UK’s Best Wheelbarrows For Shifting Bulky Items In The Garden

wheelbarrow filled with soil in garden

The humble wheelbarrow, so often associated with workmen and peasants, is – as veteran gardeners would attest – actually one of the most useful rough-and-ready implements that a gardener can own. Indeed, a wheelbarrow is indispensable even for DIYers – heck, for anyone who has a yard!

Two handles. Two supports. One wheel. And a tray (or tub). Simple and basic, right? Actually, not quite.

Anyone who has used different wheelbarrows will tell you that one may be very stable while another one is prone to tipping over. Yet another will turn easily while some other one will stubbornly want to go straight. And a few will require a lot of effort to wheel along a load but one or two others will require less effort to wheel a bigger load. So, unlikely as it may seem, a bit of Physics goes into the making of a good wheelbarrow.

Dependencies include, among others, the dimensions of the tray, the centre of gravity, how the load settles in the tray, the wheel’s perpendicular relative to the tray, the width of the hub, the dimensions of the wheel and tyre, the wheel bearing’s quality, and the relative positions of the wheel and the supports.

But Physics they may or may not have had back in . . . the Fourth Century B.C.! Yes, the wheelbarrow has been with us for a looong time. Ancient inventories dating back to circa 407 B.C. found near Attica, Greece, provide evidence for, literally, a ‘four-wheeler,’ a ‘two-wheeler’, and a ‘one-wheeler’ – a wheelbarrow. If pictorial evidence is required, we can still place the wheelbarrow nearly two millennia in the past. Murals showing a man and a wheelbarrow and dated to 118 A.D. were found in a tomb in Sichuan, China.

We do not know exactly how good those ancient one-wheelers were, but we can provide recommendations as to the best ones you can buy today.

Last update on 2020-10-19 / Affiliate links / Images / Pricing from Amazon Product Advertising API

Let’s start with our top pick –

Best Pick: WheelBarrows Direct 200L In Blue

This ‘industrial strength’ two-wheeler is an engine-less massive and robust haul-all, and is durable to boot; verily WBD’s rig is the Land Rover of wheelbarrows.

WheelBarrows Direct’s big bad wheelbarrow measures a capacious 150 x 90 x 86 centimetres and weighs 20 kilograms. It has a 20-litre capacity and is rated to haul up to 265 kilograms.

This huge haul-it-all has a lot going for it – a sturdy plastic tray, galvanised steel frame, and ‘puncture-proof’ tyres that really do not go flat. Talking about tyres (plural), this rig has twin wheels for stability that you cannot find in the usual ‘wheel’ barrow. On the other hand, it is not quite as manoeuvrable as a traditional one-wheeler. The tray is buttressed at the front by a rigid steel bracket for additional solidity.

Large capacity, robust build, and good balance combine to allow you to move some serious loads. The flip side of this advantage is that you may end up loading the tray with so much material, especially if it is of a dense and heavy type, that the barrow becomes difficult to push.

The excellent design makes it easy to tip but, because of the shape of the tray, not quite as easy to empty out. It has the customary tipping bar in front but it is superfluous as this ‘wheelbarrow’ is a two-wheeler, and hence stable and balanced when tipping also. Indeed, the tipping bar only hampers easy tipping.

This heavy-duty unit is of top quality and is durable; forget about garden waste, this big bad boy can move gravel, manure, logs, building materials, and muck out stables, and withstands a lot of punishment.

This barrow is delivered fully assembled and ready to go.

WheelBarrows Direct provides a one-year guarantee against defective materials or workmanship.

Pros

  • A titan among wheelbarrows meant for moving giant-sized loads, which it does with consummate ease.
  • It is a titan not only in size for it is strong and durable and has twin-wheel stability.
  • No assembly headaches as it is delivered fully assembled.

Cons

  • Easy to tip, yes, but not so easy to empty out.
  • Redundant tipping bar makes emptying difficult.
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Value Pick: Simpa 85L Heavy Duty Wheelbarrow

Little, cute, and colourful, Simpa’s wheelbarrow – is well-made and efficient, yet is fun and stylish like a Mazda Miata – and very affordable!

Simpa’s little kit has an 85-litre capacity and can carry up to 120 kilograms. It weighs a mere 8.8 kilos, making it ideal for children and youngsters. It is available in bright purple and green.

Simpa may call their item ‘heavy duty’ but it is definitely not heavy duty! What it is is solid and well built for its size and light weight; it is just right for light-duty gardening chores. The tyre is a conventional pneumatic tyre, the handle rods and frame are made of galvanised steel and the tray is made of plastic. The softish (or non-hard) moulded plastic handles facilitate gripping, especially for those with hands unroughened by manual labour.

Under heavy loads, the tray flexes this way and that.

This kit is simple, effective, and not a little stylish with the elegant curves on the silvery frame and that eye-popping purple colour of the tray – and even a colour-matching wheelcap. Yup, this is the svelte wheelbarrow that Daniela Pestova and Claudia Schiffer are surely using in their retirements!

Be aware that the sellers – not necessarily the manufacturer – sometimes send second-hand and damaged items.

Simpa’s wheelbarrow requires assembly and it’s not exactly a piece of cake. DIYers will find it easy to put together but first-timers will struggle. In any event, at the super-low price, this quality bit of kit is an unqualified bargain.

Pros

  • For light-duty work, this simple, stylish, and effective kit is ideal.
  • Cute and colourful, this wheelbarrow is svelte enough to appeal to image-conscious young females.
  • Such a quality little kit at the super-low price is a fantastic value for money.

Cons

  • The ‘heavy-duty’ in the product’s byline is deceptive; one can call this a medium-duty kit.
  • The plastic tray will flex under heavy loads.
  • Assembly will pose a challenge to the inexperienced.
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Walsall 85L Galvanised With Duraball

Boasting one of the best ‘wheels’ in the business but badly let down by design and ‘chassis’; Walsall’s U.K.-made rig may seem a Jaguar but it’s really a Yugo.

Measuring 61.5 x 27 x 80.8 centimetres and weighing 13.5 kilograms, Walsall’s innovative rig can carry a volume of up to 85 litres and a weight of up to 150 kilos.

This item is available in ‘galvanised steel’ as a ‘colour’ though it is more the colour of tin. The ‘same’ item in green and orange ‘colours’ is unavailable but be aware that these ‘colours’ have a plastic tray whereas the ‘galvanised’ ‘colour’ variant has a galvanised steel tray!

The major selling point of this wheelbarrow is that instead of a wheel it has a football-sized solid ball. This feature makes it perfect for soft ground and it will even handle squishy ground provided the load is not overly heavy. The spherical ‘wheel’ also makes it more stable over rough and uneven ground than a conventional wheelbarrow. And manoeuvrability is considerably enhanced by the ‘duraball.’ Finally, it is easy and light to push.

On the ‘con’ side, the duraball is not exactly durable or robust. Carting heavy loads over rough, rocky surfaces will damage it. Even worse, the tray itself is delicate, being made of thin metal which takes dints and dents all-too readily. The galvanised steel frame may be ‘heavy-duty’, yes, but it is undone by the un-heavy-duty tray. The edges underneath and inside the rolled-over rim are very sharp.

Another drawback is that the handles are very close together. Also, they are short as well as steeply-angled and as a result, are too close to the barrow’s trailing edge. Persons of a ‘ball-like’ physique would do well to avoid this ball-barrow.

This rig is not meant to haul hard, heavy or dense materials. It is not tough but is perfectly acceptable for medium-duty work and is ideal for carrying light loads over soft, soggy, uneven ground, over which you need to take a good few twists and turns.

Some straightforward assembly is required.

The manufacturer is not responsive and does not provide good after-sales service.

Pros

  • Innovative spherical ‘wheel’ allows this rig to traverse soft and squishy ground that regular wheelbarrows would get bogged in.
  • The same ball-wheel makes this wheelbarrow highly manoeuvrable.

Cons

  • The ‘galvanised steel’ tray has a tin colour – and it is tinny, being delicate and prone to dinging.
  • Poor design of the arms and handles make the wheelbarrow hard to handle.
  • Unresponsive manufacturer/seller’s after-sales service leaves a lot to be desired.
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Carrimore 200L Twin Wheelbarrow

Well-balanced, rugged, and built to move heavy loads over tricky terrain with extra stability but not exorbitantly-priced, isn’t Carrimore’s rig a Chevy Silverado?

With ample dimensions of 90 x 22 x 40 centimetres and a capacity of 200 litres, Carrimore’s wheelbarrow is a heavyweight at 22 kilos. It has a rigid plastic tray and a galvanised steel frame.

It is available in two variants, unassembled and assembled.

This is a twin-wheeled ‘wheelbarrow,’ making it more stable than any conventional wheelbarrow; at the same time, it is less manoeuvrable. The tyres are pneumatic and the new model’s bearings come with a ‘life-time guarantee.’

Quite rugged, very large and necessarily well balanced, this medium-duty wheelbarrow is ideal for moving large quantities of dense or heavy material, including sand, gravel, and manure, over tricky terrain. It is so inviting and seems so sturdy that you may even overload the tray and end up making the barrow difficult to move, especially if the material is of a dense and heavy type.

Delivered in 18 component pieces (not including nuts and screws), this wheelbarrow requires considerable assembly which will be troublesome for inexperienced DIYers but the instructions are clear and quite excellent.

The problem is that every now and again one or two of those 18 component pieces will be missing from your box, holding up your assembly and delaying your yard work. As this one and the same wheelbarrow is also sold in a little costlier assembled variant, you may want to preclude the chance of being the proud owner of a kit lacking a tray bracket, an axle plate, or a few nuts and screws, simply by springing £10 to £20 more for the assembled option.

Though this wheelbarrow is costly, it is not exorbitantly-priced.

Manufacturer and seller are very responsive and provide very good after-sales service.

Pros

  • Large twin-wheeled wheelbarrow has excellent balance and stability.
  • Rugged and durable, this rig’s build quality from top to toe is seriously good.
  • Buyer can opt for the ‘fully-assembled’ variant, and he/she’s ready to go upon delivery.

Cons

  • If you opt for the unassembled variant, your package may be missing a component piece or a few nuts or screws!
  • Definitely on the costly side.
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County Cruiser Wheelbarrow

A no-nonsense wheelbarrow that is lightweight, handles superbly, and is reliable and built to last, Cruiser’s value-for-money rig reminds us of the Toyota Corolla.

Cruiser’s classic take on the wheelbarrow is 95 x 56 x 26 centimetres and weighs 20 kilograms. It has a capacity of 100 to 120 litres. This is a medium-large wheelbarrow.

It has a corrosion-proof polypropylene tray, a galvanised steel frame, and a beefy pneumatic tyre.

This rig is not exactly as shown in the advertising picture and not exactly as described in marketing material, but the three or four differences are largely minor if not trivial.

County Cruiser moves heavy loads without drama; use it for virtually anything except building materials, from firewood from the shed to muck from the stables.

The maker says it is ‘perfectly balanced when rolling’ and so it is. It is also distinctly easier to handle and more comfortable than average, no little thanks to above-par handgrips.

This wheelbarrow is sturdy and reliable yet palpably light, very manoeuvrable and easy to tip, all without being fancy-shmancy. A good old-fashioned wheelbarrow that is meant to last and is sold at an affordable price.

Some assembly is required. Firstly, it can be a hair-puller of a chore for first-timers especially as the poorly-printed instructions are not too helpful. Secondly, it can be a bit of a chore even for experienced hobbyists because the fabrication is far from exact, leaving you to force and flex parts during assembly. Thirdly, necessary washers are not supplied. However, one or two sellers deliver it fully assembled.

This rig must be recognised as a terrific value for money.

Pros

  • No frills but all the right positives, such as reliability, durability, and good handling.
  • Good ole-fashioned wheelbarrow evinces materials of very good quality.
  • A good and fairly large wheelbarrow at a low-moderate price means excellent value for money.

Cons

  • Assembly instructions are quite poor.
  • Imprecise fabrication of component parts makes assembly quite a headache and a chore.
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How To Replace A Wheelbarrow Wheel

Follow these steps to replace your wheel:

  • Turn your wheelbarrow over on a level surface.
  • Using a wrench or socket, remove the nut from one side of the axle.
  • Pull out the bolt and axle from the other side. You may need to pull out the bolt before you can remove the axle.
  • Slide the wheel off the axle.
  • Now, if the axle and bolt have taken a beating over time, you may as well put in a new axle and bolt to go with the new wheel.
  • Either way, put some grease on both the bolt and the axle.
  • Insert the bolt into the axle.
  • If the new wheel does not have bushes, you may need to get them separately.
  • Hold the wheel in between the hubs and slide the bolt and axle from one opening of the hub and through the wheel to the other.
  • Put a washer and a nut on the free end of the bolt.
  • Spin it tightly with your fingers.
  • Hold the nut end with a spanner and tighten the bolt with a socket or wrench.

What Pressure Should A Wheelbarrow Tyre Be?

Inflating a tyre to a particular pressure is a question that is valid only for pneumatic tyres, i.e. tyres with tubes. Do not try inflating a tubeless tyre which a modern wheelbarrow may have.

The truth is that tyres have a PSI (Pounds per Square Inch) (or kilopascal – kPa) rating.

Follow the rating and, in hot weather or for heavy use, do not over-inflate. Most wheelbarrow tyres have a pressure rating from 30 to 50 PSI.

How To Empty A Wheelbarrow Into A Skip

You can empty a wheelbarrow into a skip in either of two basic ways.

If you are able-bodied and strong and have a helper who is equally so, and you don’t have a ton of manure in the tray, position the wheelbarrow alongside the skip. The stronger one of the two should grasp and lift the wheelbarrow with one hand gripping the front rim of the tray and the other hand lifting it from the bottom. The other person should lift it up by the handles. Lift until the rim is above the edge of the skip’s opening and start tilting the wheelbarrow while pushing it inwards so that the side of the tray rests against the lip of the skip for additional support and stability. Tilt it entirely to empty it.

The second method does not require a helper but requires the help of a ramp. Special skip ramps are available that have a patterned tread or surface and/or a groove or channel for the wheel. You will need to ensure that either the ramp will securely catch onto the lip of the skip or otherwise ensure that it will not slide off and fall, say by wedging a heavy backstop but that will still allow you and the wheelbarrow to get on the ramp.

You also need to be strong enough to push a wheelbarrow up a gradient!

Finally, be sure to wear shoes that will not slip and will give you a firm grip.

Roll the wheelbarrow up the ramp and when the front of the tray is jutting over the lip of the skip, lift the handles evenly to tip the load off the front of the tray into the skip, maintaining firm forward force on the wheelbarrow, otherwise when you start tipping the wheelbarrow will make as if to roll down the ramp.

About the author

Kersasp 'Kersie' Shekhdar

Kersie learnt the basics of gardening as a toddler, courtesy of his grandfather. In his youth he was an active gardener with a preference for flowering plants. He is a professional and vocational writer and his freelance projects have spanned various kinds of writing.

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