Especially at this time of year, if you do much gardening and yard work, you’ll be carrying things. If it turns out to be a lot of things, then consider a garden cart, tote or wheelbarrow. The kind of work you’ll be doing, how often and how heavy the load is will help you choose.
Totes or “toters” are great for light loads. Raked leaves, frost killed annuals and perennial stems are perfect for totes, providing the capacity to carry them to the compost pile. The ease of unfolding the canvas bag, loading it up, grabbing the handles and walking to the drop off point is hard to beat. If you see the bottom of the tote sagging under the weight of the load, it’s best to consider alternatives.
Heavier loads, such as mulch, rocks and bricks are best moved with a garden cart. A properly designed wheelbarrow or garden cart should support 80% of the weight of the load. If the path is clear and maneuvering is important, then a wheelbarrow is a good choice. With 2 wheels, a garden cart is a better choice for the heaviest of loads, other than a gas powered machine such as a “trickster”. Carts, like wheelbarrows, should be able to directly support the weight of the load.
With both carts and wheelbarrows, the undercarriage and handles are important features. Rigidity and strength are important factors to consider. The gauge of the metal, the durability and finish of the wood platforms and overall construction design either make or break the usefulness of the device.
Before buying a wheelbarrow or garden cart, test it out. Put something heavy into it (getting the store clerk to do it for you is a good idea!) and walk around a little while. It should feel balanced and sturdy as you take the test drive, feeling comfortable walking or standing with the load.
Garden carts are supposed to make taking care of the landscape easier. By thinking about the features before making a purchase, you’re taking a big step forward in the process.