Wheelbarrow Buyers Guide
By David Howlett
This guide has been written to help you make the
right choice when buying a wheelbarrow in the UK. In the UK currently there are
at least 30 different types of wheelbarrow, from the basic garden barrow to a
sophisticated battery powered motorised wheelbarrow.
There are also numerous manufactures both at home and abroad and of course
a vast range of models to choose from. And all with different prices and specification.
This guide is an attempt to give you a little more understanding of the range
of wheelbarrows available and help you decide which is best.
Chuko Liang (181-234 A.D.) is considered to have invented the wheelbarrow as
a way to move injured soldiers from battle. The wheelbarrow did not exist in
Europe before the eleventh or twelfth century (earliest depiction is in Chartres
Wheelbarrow design has not really changed much in almost a thousand
years. James Dyson inventor of the cyclone vacuum cleaner developed the ballbarrow
marrying suburban kitsch with ease of use. Much more recently America car giant
Daimler Chrysler has developed an innovative range of wheelbarrows featuring
flat-free tyres, long-life wheel bearing and longer handles for easier lifting.
Types of wheelbarrow
Wheelbarrows can be characterised into several different types dependent on
the likely use for the barrow. These types or categories include:
• The Basic garden wheelbarrow
• Nurseries & Professional Gardeners
• Builders Construction Wheelbarrow
• Dual Wheeled Wheelbarrows and Carts
• Speciality Wheelbarrows £15 - £550
The Basic Garden Wheelbarrow £20 -
This is probably the most common type of wheelbarrow and range from ones that
are extremely lightweight and flimsy to wheelbarrows that are extremely well
made and designed from many years service. Prices range from around £20
up to £60 and like everything in life you pay for what you get. The Jeep
Mini is a good quality garden wheelbarrow at the upper end of the market but
is well made and designed for longer life with features such as oil impregnated
wheel bushing and powder coated baked on paint.
Visit any out of town DIY superstore and you will find plenty of choice at the
cheaper end of the market with prices from as little as £15 although the
quality may be poor and so unlikely to last very long.
Nurseries & Professional Gardeners
Wheelbarrows in this category tend to be of much better quality and designed
for a much longer life. The tubs are usually polyethylene rather than plastic
for longer life. The steel used in the frame and construction tends to be good
quality and is galvanised or powder coated to protect against rust.
A typical example of this type of barrow is the Big Bertha from Jeep and sold
The Big Bertha has a long life polyethylene tub, easy-lift handlebars with soft
grips and guaranteed for five years. It also has flat-free tyres guaranteed
for the life of the wheelbarrow.
Builders Construction Wheelbarrow
The traditional builders wheelbarrow has been the standard wheelbarrow for builders
in the UK for many years. Made from mild steel with a simple tube tyre it is
an effective if utilitarian tool for the job.
The problem is much of the time these barrows are used to move concrete or
mortar around a building site. All these contain cement which is a highly corrosive
alkaline against steel. Meaning after only a year or so the wheelbarrow will
end in a very sorry state indeed.
Many builders accept this and so only spend as little as possible on a wheelbarrow
and then throw it away in a few months or a year when the jobs finished. But
some such as landscape gardeners, DIY enthusiasts or stonemasons might want
a quality wheelbarrow that will last a number of years.
There are quality wheelbarrows available to cater for this need. One of these
is the Jeep Wrangler 6.
The Wrangler 6 represents the very top end of the quality-building wheelbarrow.
All the metal is powder coated and then baked in an oven to give maximum protection
against corrosion. Besides the guaranteed flat-free tyre and easy lift handles
it has other innovative features such as wheel bearings designed for very long
life and a leak-proof metal tub (very useful when mixing mortar or cement in
Dual Wheeled Wheelbarrows and Carts
In the strictest sense of the word these are not really wheelbarrows at all
as they have two wheels. But they are a very important and specialist type of
wheelbarrow that can cater for the need of their users.
These barrows are particularly useful when greater stability is required or
if the barrow is carrying very heavy loads.
An example of a dual wheelbarrow is the Jeep Monster. This has an enormous 8
cubic foot capacity tub and will happily carry any load but it is also stable
and self-balancing when being pushed.
Speciality Wheelbarrows £15 - £550
There was a time when a wheelbarrow simply had a wheel, a tub and some handlebars
all joined together so you could push it along. No so these days. The wheelbarrow
has evolved and now there is probably a barrow to suit every occasion and need.
Typical of these is the recent phenomenon of the folding wheelbarrow. These
tend to be very light but strong and can often carry up to 40kg. Their real
benefit is they need little storage space as they can easily be stowed away
or hung on the wall. They normally cost from £15 - £40.
Just released by Stadium is the Rhino Runna the so called "Flexi Tub
Wheelbarrow". This has been designed to take the flexible plastic or rubber
tubs that are now commonly used by horse owners, builders and gardeners to move
things around. Easy to use but also should save on the back. Currently online
excusive at Gardenmania.
At the other end of the scale is the motorised wheelbarrow. This is usually
powered by an electric motor and although you'll still need to lift the
handlebars the motor will take the effort out of pushing it.
About the Author
David Howlett co-runs a UK based gardening website called Gardenmania. They are developing a range of Gardening Guides at: http://www.gardenmania.co.uk/gardenguides