Gardeners frequently need to haul tools, mulch, and yard waste around. Because of this, a yard cart or wheelbarrow is a must-have tool for homeowners, gardeners, and landscapers. They help complete a myriad of outdoor tasks with less physical stress.

So how do we know which one is best for our needs?

We first must look at these factors:

  • Who is using the wheelbarrow or garden cart?
  • What and how much is being hauled?
  • What terrain/spaces must it move over?
  • How durable does it need to be?
yard cart vs wheelbarrow

Once we know the answer to these questions, the differences between yard carts and wheelbarrows also affect the purchasing decision.

Continue reading to learn more about what makes a yard cart different from a wheelbarrow, the common uses, and the benefits and drawbacks of each style.

Yard Carts

From light to heavy loads, a yard cart can make gardening and landscaping work quick and comfortable.

Characteristics of Garden or Yard Carts

Yard carts have four wheels, a long handle, and a tub with a flat bottom and straight sides.

The design of a yard cart is for a person to pull it from the front, much like a wagon. The two front wheels turn in unison by moving the handle.

A yard cart can be built from sturdy plastic, metal, or have a canvas tub that can fold up for storage. Some yard carts have removable sides to make it a flatbed for moving lumber or large items that won’t fit in the tub.

Popular Yard Cart Uses

Yard carts are popular for moving heavy or bulky loads like firewood, rocks, planters, or tools. The four-wheel design makes it simple to move heavy items with less physical stress.

These carts are also handy for gathering and moving leaves for mulching, picking up branches, or holding plants set for transplant in a new location.

Benefits of the Garden Cart

A garden cart is more stable since it balances on four tires, and the center of gravity is lower. Four wheels allow it to distribute the weight of larger loads. The flat bottom of a yard cart allows spill-proof transport of potted plants, flats of flowers, or other items.

A garden yard cart does not require extra strength to balance the load while pulling it.

A yard cart with large wheels can pass over rough terrain without the worry of tipping over. And yard cart tubs are lower to the ground, which make it easier to remove loads.

Overall, yard carts require less agility to operate, which make it ideal for physically-compromised gardeners. And some garden carts have a dumping feature, making it easy to haul the contents and remove them easily.

Yard Cart Shortcomings

The tires on a yard cart play a big role in handling, and many manufacturers use small or inexpensive tires that make it difficult to operate. Take time to learn more about what type of tire is best for a yard cart and why.

Yard carts pull from the front, and the wheels form a wide track, which limits maneuverability in tight spaces. And when changing directions, pivoting a yard cart requires plenty of space.

Yard carts without a “dumping” feature require tipping the cart over or manually removing items.

A full cart can gain unexpected momentum going down an incline, or be very taxing to pull uphill, which could lead to injury.


Wheelbarrows are a tried-and-true method for transporting many types of cumbersome loads.

Characteristics of wheelbarrows

A traditional wheelbarrow has one front wheel, a center tray with sloping sides, and two long wooden handles to lift and push the load.


Two legs under the back of the wheelbarrow balance it for loading and unloading. The tire has a thin frame around it that aids in supporting the wheelbarrow when it is tipped forward to empty the load.

Wheelbarrows push from behind and use the front wheel to pivot and roll the load to the drop-off location.

Most wheelbarrows are wood and metal or heavy-duty plastic. Plastic and metal wheelbarrow trays have their own strengths and weaknesses. The material to choose depends heavily on the loads it will carry and a person’s physical strength.

Popular Wheelbarrow Uses

Wheelbarrows are popular for moving heavier items like piles of dirt, mulch, rocks, gravel, and cement. Wheelbarrow design centers and balances the load on the front tire which distributes the weight so lifting and maneuvering the wheelbarrow is easier to handle.

Wheelbarrows have the ability to move through tight spaces over a variety of terrain and can pass down rows between garden beds as the single tire reduces soil disturbance.

Strengths of the Wheelbarrow

Wheelbarrow design allows the user to dump the load forward by raising the handles easily.

Pivoting the front end lets the user dump the material in an exact location, and the slope on the front of the wheelbarrow tray helps material slip out.

Wheelbarrows are very rugged and can last for years. When tires wear out or go flat its possible to fix or replace them with little fuss.

By pushing the wheelbarrow from behind, there is more control and obstacles in your path are visible.

Wheelbarrows can angle and turn quickly on the single front wheel which allows maneuverability in tight spots and around sharp turns.

The design of a wheelbarrow is specific for easy moving, tipping, and dumping of loose materials like soil, gravel, compost, firewood, or mulch.

Wheelbarrow Weaknesses

Without a lot of practice, it is easy for a wheelbarrow to become off balance, especially with a full or heavy load.

If a wheelbarrow does tip over on its side while carrying a load, the weight and design make it awkward to set upright.

The typical air-filled tire can flatten, which makes pushing the wheelbarrow extremely difficult.

A 6-cubic-feet wheelbarrow is an ideal size for most people to control safely, but larger sizes require quite a bit of strength to handle, especially when going up or down inclines.