What is an Antique Wheelbarrow?

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  • Written By: Micki Elizabeth
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 10 October 2019
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An antique wheelbarrow is a collectible type of lever often used as a gardening tool that may help an individual move a load using less effort. A wheelbarrow typically has one wheel, a bucket, and can be guided by an individual via one or two handles. The bucket can hold a variety of objects; gardeners tend to use the tool to move soil, plants, and decorative stones. A wheelbarrow can also be used as a decorative planter. Though the term “antique” typically refers to an object over 100 years old, many antique wheelbarrows sold are actually new products that are distressed to look like an antique.

A wheelbarrow is designed to move and hold objects. These tools can be useful when carting heavy loads, such as bags of soil, which may account for their popularity with gardeners. An antique wheelbarrow, however, is used more often as decoration rather than as a practical application.

There are many different styles that an antique wheelbarrow may possess. Most will still have the usual components of a wheelbarrow, consisting of a wheel, a bucket, and handles. Some wheelbarrows have a rustic look, made of dark, aged wood with a large, open bucket. Others may be made of metal with fine detailing. When new wheelbarrows are made to look antique, the metal may appear rusted or discolored, or the wood may be painted to look weathered.


A decorative wheelbarrow is often used as a planter and is usually meant to be stationary. Therefore, legs may be attached under the bucket of the wheelbarrow to prop the planter in an upright position. Using an antique wheelbarrow as a planter may be useful especially for gardeners who live in areas where soil conditions are unfavorable for plant growth. Likewise, renters who do not have permission to build an in-ground garden from a landlord can grow a removable garden inside a wheelbarrow.

Depending on the soil used and the growing conditions, virtually any plant can be grown in an antique wheelbarrow. Many gardeners favor flowers that can add to the rustic appeal of a wheelbarrow. Edible plants such as smaller fruits, vegetables, and herbs may also flourish if grown inside a wheelbarrow. It is possible that fewer insects and other pests typically found in the earth will harm plants grown off of the ground.

Antique wheelbarrows can be purchased through several retailers. Plant nurseries that sell decorative accessories may carry them, and numerous online stores have them in stock. Much of the time, the “antique” being sold is actually a new product and not a bona fide antique. Some people find this attribute favorable, though, because a new product may last longer without needing special attention or repair.


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