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12 December 2014

Choosing a Wheelbarrow

My son is hoping to move house shortly, to a property with a larger garden, and has suggested that a wheelbarrow might be a useful Christmas present. What should you take into consideration when buying a wheelbarrow?

Wheelbarrows are useful for a range of tasks around the garden, such as moving bags of compost from the car to the garden, shifting hardcore for paths and patios, garden compost from the heap to the flower beds and grass clippings from the lawn to the compost.

If you have a small garden, or one which is difficult to manoeuvre around, then a smaller wheelbarrow would be more appropriate. You can find these with plastic bodies for extra lightness, as well as in the normal painted steel and galvanised finishes. These should also be considered if the operator would be unable to manage a larger model. Also there is no point in buying a large wheelbarrow if you are never going to fill it up.

You will find that most modern wheelbarrows have a lightweight tubular steel frame and a tray of plastic or galvanised steel. They generally come with a pneumatic tyre, as these make the barrow easier on your arms, though solid rubber tyres are still available. Some manufacturers give you the choice of tyre type.

Before buying a wheelbarrow there are a few things you should check:-

Check that you will be able to get the barrow into your garden, through the narrowest gate entrance. It is no use to you if you can't.

Ensure that the wheelbarrow is clear of the ground when holding the handles with your arms straight.

Check that the handles have comfortable hand grips and are long enough to prevent you hitting your shins on the back of the tray, and placed far enough apart to balance the load easily.

The tray, whether metal or plastic, should be large enough for the owner's needs. Some people might only need a capacity of 50 litres say, while others need one with a 120 litre capacity.

A pneumatic wheel will reduce vibration, especially when travelling over uneven ground, and prevent ruts in soft ground.

A tipping bar, which rests on the ground, will help to steady the barrow when it's being emptied.

When you get it home, make sure that you use your barrow safely. Don't overload it - about a third of the weight of the barrow and load will be taken by your arms. Overloading will also make it harder to control, especially when cornering.

Keep your arms straight but relaxed when pushing, and bend your knees when lifting the barrow to avoid straining your back.

When going down steps, let the wheel roll slowly down each step at a time. When going up steps, walk backward and pull gently up each one to try to avoid straining your back. If necessary take smaller amounts of heavy material each time. Alternatively you could put a board down the steps to run up.

I hope this article has been of use. I am now going out to find a 120 litre capacity wheelbarrow with a galvanised tray.
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