Can A Wheelbarrow Be Stored Outside?

old green wheelbarrow sitting on hay by the barn

Yes, a wheelbarrow can be stored outside if you have no other place to store it as long as you take some common sense precautions.

In this article we will be discussing different types of wheelbarrows and which ones can safely be stored outside and which ones really should not be stored outside.

Can you leave a wheelbarrow outside?

Yes, you can leave a wheelbarrow outside. Here are three ways it can be left outside:

  • placing the wheelbarrow upside down to keep water from collecting inside the tub
  • leaving the wheelbarrow upright with a waterproof cover over the tub
  • a great way to leave a wheelbarrow outside is to prop it against a tree with a board underneath the tub and the frame to keep the wheelbarrow off the ground
old wheelbarrow leaning up against a tree

Before leaving a wheelbarrow outside there are some basic procedures that should be followed.

After using the wheelbarrow to mix cement, hose the tub out and wash off any cement that is on the outside of the wheelbarrow and on the handles.

When the wheelbarrow begins to rust, as it eventually will, you can clean the rust off with a wire brush and using a paint made to inhibit rust, spray paint the wheelbarrow if desired.

Some owners will coat their wheelbarrow with oil and lubricate the axle at least once a year.

If there isn’t a grease fitting on the axle you can put some 30 weight oil on the axle and spin the tire a few times to be sure the oil has covered the axle.

Once a year check the pressure in the tire.

A common pressure for contractor wheelbarrow tires is 30 pounds per square inch, psi.

Let’s look at the different types of wheelbarrows by construction and the common sense precautions needed when shoring wheelbarrows.

Can a contractor’s wheelbarrow be left outside?

Yes, my contractor’s wheelbarrow has spent many years stored outside because there wasn’t a garage or shed to store it in.

It was stored outside all year long when I lived near the Oregon coast and for years while living in middle Tennessee.

Many times its been stored outside at my current homestead in North Idaho.

A contractors wheelbarrow has a heavy steel tub, steel frame, hardwood handles and a high quality single tire mounted on a steel axle.

A contractor’s wheelbarrow is built tough to take hard usages.

It has hauled concrete blocks, been used to mix cement in, hauled sand, hay and straw for the livestock, dirt for the garden and firewood when trees are cut down.

It still has the original tire which still holds air and the original wooden handles are still straight and strong.

It has survived rain, snow, hail and temperatures ranging from below Zero to above 100 degrees F.

When I purchased it new 45 years ago it cost around $50.00.

I was digging out a collapsed retaining wall in the back yard of a house I had recently purchased and knew I would need a heavy duty wheelbarrow to haul away the debris.

Before I had owned this contractor’s wheelbarrow a week, the inside was scratched up and even some places on the outside had signs of usage.

But after all these years, my contractor’s wheelbarrow is still in good shape and should last for years to come.

A lesser constructed wheelbarrow most likely would not have survived that first project.

Can a gardener’s wheelbarrow be left outside?

A gardener’s wheelbarrow can be left outside but will rust and deteriorate much faster and need to be replaced or restored in as little as 2 or 3 years.

A gardener’s wheelbarrow usually has a metal tub and metal handles but some may have wooden handles.

Gardener’s wheelbarrows are much less substantially constructed than a contractor’s wheelbarrow.

A gardener’s wheelbarrow may also be called a homeowner’s or residential wheelbarrow.

Prices can start from as little as $30.00 to $35.00 at some hardware and garden centers.

A gardener’s wheelbarrow works best for lightweight and some occasional heavy usage.

Can you leave a poly or plastic wheelbarrow outside?

A poly or plastic wheelbarrow should not be left outdoors when not being used.

A poly or plastic wheelbarrow should be stored in the garage or in a garden shed when not in use.

Sunlight’s ultraviolet rays and cold temps can cause the tub to become brittle in a few years time when left outside.

Poly or plastic wheelbarrows have a tub made of a plastic type material. The handles may be wooden or metal and this wheelbarrow may have one or two wheels.

They can be used occasionally for heavy chores such as carrying concrete blocks or loading down with firewood.

Poly or plastic wheelbarrows can be bought for less than a good quality contractor’s wheelbarrow and usually start at round $50.00.

Be advised, that these wheelbarrows made of plastic or poly can flex and the tub can crack or break if you place too heavy a load in them.

Throwing concrete blocks or rocks that weigh even 10 pounds into these wheelbarrows can leave you with a cracked or broken wheelbarrow.

If you are only hauling grass clippings, moderate loads of dirt for the garden or flower bed or bark for a landscaping project, poly or plastic wheelbarrows will work fine.

Do not try to haul hot coals from a fireplace or wood burning stove! You can end up with a wheelbarrow with one or more holes in the tub.

Common sense precautions when storing a wheelbarrow

There are a few common sense precautions that you should follow when storing a wheelbarrow for better safety and preservation.

  • store it so that children can not be hurt playing around or on it
  • best to store a wheelbarrow where it will be out of the weather
  • store it where it is easy to get to and easy to check on it

A wheelbarrow can take up a lot of space if stored in a garage.

A storage shed or a lean-to type storage area on the side of a building can be ideal if the wheelbarrow can be kept out of the weather and dry.

I ran across an easy method of mounting a wheelbarrow on a wall that you can find in this internet article ‘Keep your wheelbarrow in track with this DIY rack’.

On our homestead there is a large metal roofing system under which I can store firewood, mowers, a tractor and my contractor’s wheelbarrow.

It is possible to store a wheelbarrow up against the ceiling of a garage or shop by using a system of pulleys with the ropes attached to three points on the wheelbarrow.

If considering a system like this be sure the ropes and pulleys and how they are attached is sufficient to support the weight of the wheelbarrow!

Restoring an old wheelbarrow left outside

You may find an old wheelbarrow on Craig’s List or advertised for sale on a community bulletin board at a local store.

Many times these can be found for as little as $20.00.

Inspect used wheelbarrows carefully looking for:

  • a tub that is not cracked or almost worn through
  • handles that are straight and strong
  • an axle that is not bent or worn out
  • the steel support legs extending down from the handles are straight and in good condition
  • a broken wheel that can be easily replaced, even with a puncture proof wheel

Here is a video on restoring an old wheelbarrow that might be of interest to you if you decide to restore an old wheelbarrow.

John Brownlee

John is a retired Lawyer, Health Care Provider and has a certificate in Pest Management Technology. He teaches people how to locate, evaluate, and purchase Country and Homestead Property. He and his wife, Linda, share their knowledge of homesteading skills and safe pest management.

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