The wheelbarrow, made better

Wheelbarrow planter

We all have a wheelbarrow for use around the yard. And we’ve all, at times, cursed at it when it didn’t dump where we wanted it to, or worse, we lost the load making too sharp a turn. We’ve been thinking of retiring ours and getting a new one. Because of storage issues, ours has sat outside for most of its thirty or so years, often serving as a cover for the rototiller.

This useful tool, much like the barrel or kegs of old is really a wonder of simple engineering. Utilizing two of the basic machines- the wheel and axle and the lever, it enables us to move stuff more efficiently and allows for somewhat precise placement of the load. And, it hasn’t changed much over the years other than the addition of pneumatic tires and somewhat improved handles.

Some of the newer models have two tires in the front. While this definitely improves stability, it also hinders maneuverability, you can’t pivot the front as easily, so there is more moving around when you need to re-position it. Other improvements include the addition of “D” handles to help make the straight handles more ergonomic. While an improvement, these handles still make it necessary to shift the position of your hands while dumping, which can lead to loss of control.

We’ve discovered a product that solves the handle problem quite nicely, and it can be retro-fitted to your existing wheelbarrow in a few minutes. Actually, we can’t take credit for discovering it, one of our daughters found it and it was a birthday present.

The product is called Simply dumpit. Again, just using a simple machine, the wheel and axle, the creators of this product have revolutionized the handling of the wheelbarrow. You no longer have to change the position of your hands to dump and control it. As the video below shows, the Simply dumpit handle pivots, allowing you to maintain complete control at all times. This is not only useful to older gardeners whose grip might not be what it used to be, but it will be helpful to anyone using a wheel barrow.

They also come in a variety of sizes and construction. For size, we recommend a six cubic foot size. There are smaller four or five cubic foot models, and while they may be less expensive and look like they'd be easier to handle, the additional number of trips needed due to the smaller capacity outweighs the advantages. Also, as our friend Mike McGroarty shows us below, a properly designed and loaded wheelbarrow is easy to handle, especially with the addition of the Simply dumpit handles. Other variables include the tray being made from steel or polyethylene and the handles being wood or steel.

I think it’s time to retire “Old Blue” and turn it into one of these clever lawn ornaments with a spilled load of dirt and flowers. We’ll get a new one and install our Simply Dumpit’s on it. Maybe we’ll even find room in the shed for it, who knows.

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