The Cottage Smallholder

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Barrow love


Photo: Barrow on leaf clearing duties in October

Photo: Barrow on leaf clearing duties in October

“Danny, I’ve fallen in love.”
Resigned. He’d heard it all before.
“Last time it was a mini roller. What is it this time?”
I asked him to close his eyes and led him into the garden.
“Wow – I can see where you’re coming from. He’s a very handsome beast”
Danny picked up Barrow’s yellow handles and tested his turning circle.
“Can I share him to shift my boxes?”

I bought my first wheelbarrow from a garden centre. As far as I can remember it was quite expensive. I assumed that it had been designed for horticultural use. Gangly and awkward to manoeuvre it often flipped over in response to a heavy load shifting. I wasn’t sad when one of its handles corroded and snapped off. The question was what sort of barrow would be a good replacement? In the garden centre I dithered. Most of the barrows didn’t feel well balanced and were replicas of the one-handled one tossed beside the compost heap.

I hadn’t considered buying a builder’s barrow until I spotted one at my local builder’s merchants. I gave it a twirl in the car park. Designed to manoeuvre in tight spaces it turned like a dream. The pneumatic tyre gave it a bit of bounce to absorb uneven ground when shifting heavy weights. Rugged – this barrow could transport a baby elephant at a pinch. And it was far cheaper than the sturdy models in the garden centre. Of course the barrow on a building site is a tool. It needs to do the job swiftly and efficiently. Any builder worth their salt just wouldn’t buy a badly designed tool.

I squeezed Barrow into Jalopy and drove home. I gave him a test run in the garden with a bag of compost and a curious Min Pin. It was a joy. Like switching from pedal car to the sleekest sports coupé.

We use Barrow a lot for shifting stuff in the garden. Sometimes, like a bicycle, his sturdy tyre needs to be pumped up (he didn’t come with a pump so we bought one especially for him). He is an essential workhorse that we both rely on. If you need to replace a wheelbarrow it’s definitely worth considering one of these.

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  1. Veronica

    As an ex-archaeologist I would never consider any type *other* than a builder’s barrow! In my youth I used to run up and down spoilheaps with heavily laden barrows with nary a problem. To discourage theft from an isolated garden, our current builder’s barrow is painted pink and usually has a flat tyre (we pump it up when we want to use it).

    Side note: when your barrow is empty, tip it up with the handles on the ground. Then you can use it as a deckchair to admire your handiwork.

  2. I too bought my barrow from a builder’s merchants, it looks identical to yours. It has only needed its tyre pumping up once in the last 5 years and is admired by my neighbours for it manoeuverability. Definitely a good buy.

  3. Jo @ LittleFfarm Dairy

    We bought a solid tyre for our barrow after repeatedly having to repair punctures when the hawthorn hedges were cut. It does have its drawbacks but was worth the extra investment in the end.

  4. I have a pink ‘rhino runna’ and various different coloured buckets that go in it I love it! Easy to push very stable and pink! The tyre pumps up with my bike pump and it folods almost flat to keep it out of the weather in winter where as the plastic ‘trugs’ can stay out in all weathers stacked inside eachother…

  5. cottage garden farmer

    I agree a good barrow is worth it’s weight in gold, – I do find though that the tyre always needs pumping up just when I can’t spare the time to go and get the pump!

  6. That is very similar to the one I have but mine is really deep. Our lot slopes slightly, and I can tell you that if I don’t have it pointed exactly down the slope, that it will tip over if I’m not careful how I load it. I also have to take care not to overload it because it will hold much more than I can pick up!

  7. kate (uk)

    I’ve never bought a barrow- always had either cast-offs or barrows left in the houses we bought. All have been builders barrows- fantastic and last for ages, even though rusty and tatty!

  8. sounds like a good choice of barrow.

  9. Magic Cochin

    That’s a great tip Fiona! I must remember that when we need a new barrow.

    We’ve also got a garden cart, which I love! It’s been so useful, especially for moving large pots and containers. As well as sacks of hen food 😉


  10. Lol we bought a new barrow today too, our other one has gone walkabouts. Ours is a two wheeled, single handle job (a bit like a pram handle) which means you can pull it behind you with one hand. Very useful and sturdy for pulling buckets of water up hill. I guess I will have to get a picture of it for my blog on Monday

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