Wheelbarrow Size Guide: What Size Do I Need?

Wheelbarrows are used for various purposes in the garden as well as the construction sites. Unfortunately, no size fits all purposes. You may find people suggesting the 600lbs gorilla cart instead of a regular wheelbarrow model. How do you know what size wheelbarrow will fit your needs now, and later?

Eyeing this fact, I recommend reading the brief wheelbarrow size guide to choose the best for you. It will give you some idea to pick the best size that suits your needs the best.

The volume of materials you need to move

This is the prime consideration when it comes to buying a wheelbarrow.

The unit of measurement for materials in the garden such as mulch, soil, debris, and others is a cubic yard. The unit of measurement of the wheelbarrow volume or the load capacity is in cubic feet.

1 cubic yard of load occupies 27 cubic feet volume. This means, to move 1 cubic yard of soil from your lawn with a 2 cubic feet wheelbarrow, you can clear up all the stuff in 14 rounds. If this is a daily job, you need a bigger model.

For what purpose do you use the wheelbarrow?

The wheelbarrow is used for moving stuff in the garden and at the construction factory. If you are looking for a garden cart for a small to mid-sized lawn, any average wheelbarrow of 2-4 cubic feet can serve your needs.

Ideal Wheelbarrow Size for Various Needs

The worksite is the prime factor that you must consider to determine the wheelbarrow size. Herein are the size recommendations depending on the job at various sites:

Home Garden

The residential garden area is relatively small, where you may need to move a bit of mulch, soil, fertilizers, pots, and so on. If that’s on your mind, we recommend using any regular 2 cubic feet plastic basin wheelbarrow. You may be moving through smaller spaces on the soft soil. The single tire models are suited for maneuvering in smaller areas.

Check out our wheelbarrow buying guide for some choices!

Construction Site

Your material transferring job can get strenuous when working at a construction site. The load is generally too heavy. On any given day, you will need to deal with different materials, from concrete to cement, sand, gravel, bricks, and aggregates.

For this reason, we suggest using the wheelbarrow or cart with deep metallic (galvanized steel) basin. You are likely to move through uneven surfaces and debris. The wheelbarrows with pneumatic tires are suitable for such jobs.

Contractor-grade wheelbarrows are much larger. They typically have a volume of about six cubic feet. In this case, large trolley carts are more suitable for the job. However, some high-quality wheelbarrow models on the market can serve your purpose too. For general construction work, you would definitely benefit from some sort of steel wheelbarrow and likely on the larger side.

However, the specifics will boil down to your needs, particularly the types of materials you will carry. If you are moving debris, you won’t go wrong with a steel or a galvanized steel wheelbarrow. Unlike their powder-coated versions, steel wheelbarrows are far sturdier.

On the other hand, if you are using it mainly for concrete work, a plastic basin is more preferable since it is easier to clean. Concrete dries onto steel, so you may not be able to remove concrete remnants from your wheelbarrow once they dry.

Commercial Gardening

The job is similar to that in the home garden to some extent. However, the workload and the volume of materials to move may be too much for the 2 cubic feet models. Wheelbarrows for farms and agricultural holdings are larger. They also feature a bigger capacity so that you can carry heavy loads effortlessly.

Consider choosing the 4 cubic feet or larger polyurethane basin wheelbarrow for such jobs. It is preferable to choose a cart with 2 pneumatic wheels to ease mobility and load sharing.

Animal Farm

Animal farms are generally spread over a large area. The nature of materials you need to work with are also quite different from those used in the garden or at the construction site. Go for a larger model to escape the hassles of undergoing more trips every day.

More than the size, it is the basin material that can be a matter of concern. Dealing with highly corrosive manure every day can be a tough challenge if you are using a metal basin. Toughened plastic basins are designed to perfection for such jobs.

Lastly, we also suggest using a motorized wheelbarrow for larger jobs and commercial purposes.

How to Choose a Wheelbarrow

Wheelbarrows come in different types, models, and sizes. After figuring out the size or load capacity you need, you may want to go deeper into the specs. Below are the factors you need to consider to find the right equipment for your needs.

Tray/Basin Size and Material

You will find wheelbarrows in different tray sizes. Obviously, a larger tray means a bigger load capacity. However, you also have to consider the fact that a smaller tray will limit overloading.

If you have a big garden, farm, or job site, a wheelbarrow with extra capacity will save trips. And if you regularly carry heavy loads like soil or sand, you’re better off opting for one with a larger capacity.

The material is also an important factor to keep in mind. While steel trays are durable and long-lasting, they add to the equipment’s overall weight. If this is a concern for you, you may check out other alternatives, such as polypropylene.

Polypropylene is lighter than steel and is more suitable for corrosive loads, like animal manure or fertilizer. It is also a good choice for concrete jobs because you can remove dried concrete by simply hitting the outside of the tray with a rubber mallet.

Handle Type

Wheelbarrows use either timber or steel handles. Steel handles boast a high level of strength and durability, and they are less prone to breakage caused by the impact of overloading. Plus, they have better rust resistance. 

Meanwhile, timber handles offer a more comfortable grip and don’t heat up during hot days. With that said, if you carry loads for long hours every single day, you might benefit from a barrow with a wood handle.


The size of the wheels doesn’t have a major effect on the capacity of your wheelbarrow. However, it has a significant impact on the load balance as well as your comfort. Knowing the tire size of your barrow is also important when you need to replace them.

The two most common sizes for wheelbarrow tires are 4.00 – 6 and 4.10 – 6. The first number refers to the height of the tire sidewall, while the second number refers to the rim diameter.

Final Thoughts

Determining the correct size of the wheelbarrow for your garden or job site is very important. More than anything, it dictates how much load you can carry at a certain period. Other factors should also be considered, such as the material of the basin, the handle type, and tire size.

For home gardens, a smaller model with a capacity of two cubic feet is probably enough, unless you have a really big garden. If you’ll be using it for commercial gardening, you may need a bigger one to maximize time and efficiency. For large-scale construction projects, agriculture, or farming, it’s best to go all-in in terms of size.