6 wheelbarrow uses in your backyard: ways to use this valuable garden tool

There are more wheelbarrow uses in the garden than you might expect – the experts explain

woman taking her tools down the garden in an orange wheelbarrow
(Image credit: sturti / E+ / GettyImages)

There are lots of ways to use a wheelbarrow in the garden, whatever the time of year. 

These handy tools make it much easier to carry large and heavy loads, so will help you get many outdoor jobs done quicker. They're invaluable if you're planning a big cleanup where you need to clear and transport garden debris. But that's not all – from cleaning gravel to moving plants, a wheelbarrow is a trusty tool to rely on. 

If you don't have one of the best wheelbarrows already, it's definitely worth the investment. If you're not yet persuaded, this guide may just change your mind.

6 brilliant wheelbarrow uses

Put your wheelbarrow to good use with these garden tasks.

1. Clearing up garden leaves for mulch

When the colder months draw in, many trees start dropping their foliage, and cleaning up leaves becomes a pressing task. 

Amy Stubbs at British Garden Centres explains that a wheelbarrow is perfect for gathering up all these leaves and transporting them exactly where you need to use them – most likely as mulch around your plants or vegetables to protect them over cold spells. 

You can also use the excess fallen leaves around your property for your future gardening efforts. Once you've learned how to make leaf mold, you'll be looking forward to fall every year. 

Wheelbarrow full of red autumnal leaves and Rake

Wheelbarrows are a great tool for collecting fallen leaves

(Image credit: nigel FRANCIS / Alamy Stock Photo)

2. Moving, lifting, and dividing plants

Many plants need lifting and storing for the winter. Amy Stubbs tells us, 'A wheelbarrow is ideal for lifting and safely transporting dahlia, canna, gladiolus, and begonia tubers after the first frost, and dividing perennials that have overgrown, including hostas and daylilies.'

You can also use your wheelbarrow to move any delicate and tender potted plants inside to the greenhouse if they need to be overwintered. Nick Hamilton of Barnsdale Gardens says to always check for any pests first, such as spider mites or aphids, before transporting them inside.

Collection of Potted Plants In Wheelbarrow

Use your wheelbarrow to safely transport many potted plants at once

(Image credit: Alexandru Mirza / EyeEm / Getty Images)

3. Cleaning gravel and landscaping rocks 

The task of cleaning landscaping rocks, gravel and decorative pebbles can be a rather burdensome and time-consuming one, not to mention exceedingly heavy. Thankfully, using a wheelbarrow makes this much easier, and gets your paths and other stony garden features looking as good as new.

All you need to do is collect up the gravel with a shovel or spade, and place it into the wheelbarrow along with lots of clean water. Once you've rinsed them thoroughly, drain the dirty water out and replace your gravel in its original spot. 

You can also use a wheelbarrow lined with tarpaulin to whiten your gravel and small stones with a bleach solution.

wheelbarrow full of stones and rubble

The heavy weight of transporting gravel can be bypassed if you use a wheelbarrow

(Image credit: Mercurio Marco Messina / Alamy Stock Photo)

4. Moving tools around the yard 

When it's time to give your shed or garage a sort-out, a wheelbarrow is invaluable. It makes it easy to move your best garden spades, garden rakes and other much-used garden tools. 

Amy Stubbs suggests transporting tools in your wheelbarrow to an open space, where you can wash them and wipe them with oil to help prevent them from rusting whilst not in use.  

Wheelbarrow and garden tools out on the lawn

A wheelbarrow makes it easy to transport unwieldy garden tools, compost, and more

(Image credit: romiri / Alamy Stock Photo)

5. Collecting rainwater

Winter usually means the start of the rainy season, and a wheelbarrow is a great way to collect rainwater and put it to good use, as an alternative to a water butt.

'Simply reroute the downspout of your gutter into the wheelbarrow to collect the gallons,' Amy says. This can then be stored for dry spells to be used for watering plants.

Wheelbarrow filled with rainwater on a green lawn

Turn your wheelbarrow into a water butt during the rainy season

(Image credit: mauritius images GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo)

6. Upcycling for a planter

If your long-used wheelbarrow has rust, spots and holes, don't throw it away just yet: you can still make good use of it as a makeshift garden planter.

An old wheelbarrow is a great upcycling project and makes a decorative container for the garden or patio, says Amy. 'Make sure you drill a few holes in the bottom of the wheelbarrow to allow drainage for the plants.' Then, it is just a case of filling your new planter with compost and plants of your choice. Give it a lick of exterior-friendly paint for an extra dose of personality.

Along with vibrant blooms, why not use a wheelbarrow planter for a herb garden or some kitchen garden ideas?

Old wheelbarrow painted white and being used as a flower planter in a rock garden

An old wheelbarrow makes a wonderful upcycling project

(Image credit: JSMimages / Alamy Stock Photo)

Ready to buy a wheelbarrow of your own? Here are some of our top buys:

Flora Baker
Freelance Writer

Freelance writer and author Flora Baker is a keen amateur gardener and houseplant enthusiast. Her small garden in South London is a constant work in progress as she gets to grips with snail prevention, DIY trellises and what to plant in shady spots overrun with ivy.