The Best Tow Behind Yard Carts for your Lawn Tractor or Zero-Turn Mower

Four Best Yard Carts, Utility Carts, Dump Carts, Garden Carts, Tow Behind Carts

Most of you want a 2-wheel yard cart to pull around behind your new lawn tractor or zero-turn. If you’ve had any experience with tow behind carts in the past you know it is very hard to find one that will last. They come in all different sizes, load capacities, and types. In fact, there are over 527 pull behind Yard Carts, Utility Carts, Dump Carts, ATV carts, UTV carts, tow behind carts and Garden Carts for your lawn tractor or zero-turn available at Lowes, Home Depot, Sears and Amazon alone.

How do you find the right one? This article will give you a quick explanation of the different types and then I’ll help you decide on the best for you. At the end, you will find my top four picks for the best dump cart!

A quick explanation of the different style and capacities.

1. Weight/load capacity and cubic foot capacity of tow-behind carts.

There are two basic load ratings. 800 lb or less and 1000 to 1200 lbs.  The 800 lb or less carts use a 3/4 inch axle. The 1000 lb plus tow-behind carts use a 1-inch axle. Most use a solid steel bar for the axle and the listed weight is how much each size bar will hold before it starts to bend. In reality, there are a few other factors that also affect the load rating which we will go into.

Cubic Foot Capacity is the size of the box or tub. I have a 40-year-old tow behind cart in the picture that is listed as 8 cu.ft. but a new cart the exact same size is listed as 10 or 11 cu.ft. So I am going to assume today the rating is the size of the tub with a rounded load in it. Think a load of leaves piled over the top edge. 

2. Four types of tow behind cart construction. One type you do not want!

You definitely get what you pay for with pull behind carts. There are hundreds of carts available for less than $200 and to the untrained eye, they look just like the more expensive carts. But, if you use your cart regularly or haul more than leaves and brush in it these inexpensive carts won’t last more than a year or two.

 Poly Tub: Over $250. Poly tub tow behind dump carts are the best for most people. The tub of these carts is made of a tough plastic that won’t crack in any weather. It’s watertight so you can haul manure and other messes without it leaking all over your property. The higher priced tow behind carts are strong enough so that you could mix cement and not damage the cart. The poly will clean up with just a garden hose.

 Plastic Tub: Plastic tubs look like the poly tub above but these tow behind carts cost less than $200. The cart Lowes was giving away with a lawn tractor last year is a good example. The tub is made with a lot thinner material and you can cave in the tub by just pushing on the side. Most of these tubs won’t last more than a year or two. They will split, crack and tear easily with just a little use. Unfortunately, the brands don’t specify – they just state poly – but it’s a good rule of thumb that carts under $200 with poly tubs won’t hold up to any heavy load and won’t last long under normal use. If you only haul leaves, sticks or a bag or two of mulch at a time they are alright though.

 All Steel Tub: $150-$500. The biggest advantage to me for a steel dump tow behind cart is they have a removable tailgate. This allows you to dump the load cleanly. All the other carts (except the Polar HD Max) have a tapered back-end. When you dump a load from a poly-cart the load never dumps clean. You always have to stop and use a rake/shovel to empty the cart. The biggest disadvantage with steel pull behind carts is you have to spend over $300 to find one that will handle heavy loads of dirt or gravel.  The more expensive models have thick steel bottom and sides. Disadvantages, Steel carts rust so you have to paint the inside of the box once in a while.

 Structural Foam Tub – low-density polymer tub: Over $250. The tub on these pull behind carts are extremely tough and most are molded with side pockets so you can add extensions to the sides. Agri-Fab, Ohio Steel, Cub Cadet, Craftsman and Rubbermaid all sell high quality pull behind carts with Structural Foam tubs. The Rubbermaid tubs do scratch more easily than the thick poly and you can stain them if you leave strong manure, oil or grease on them but they are tough and last a long time. The other brands won’t stain.

Let’s discuss Polar Carts. For a while I thought I wanted an ATV cart. They generally are more rugged, more stable and have greater clearance for trudging through the timber and pasture. I finally realized that the wheelbase of the ATV carts is wider than my lawn tractor and I would be running into my landscaping a lot. Also, many brands like the Polar ATV carts have a gently sloping back. They are great for hauling product, tents, and supplies out to your duck blind or campsite but they can be a real pain if you are unloading loose material like dirt. They won’t dump cleanly and you have to stop and shovel the load out of the cart. If you do purchase a tow behind cart for your ATV make sure it has ball bearing hubs.  Because you will be traveling a lot faster with your ATV/UTV bushing hubs will overheat and burn out quickly. If you have one remember to grease the wheel hubs often.

Polar has come out with a new ATV cart with a tailgate. It is tough and lives up to the Polar reputation: Polar HD Max Cart

3. Tow behind yard carts come with three types of tires.

 Wheel Barrow Tires. You will find these on the cheap carts. They are barely thicker than an inner tube and I usually have a flat right away. Any cart that costs less than $200 will need an additional $20 of tire sealant right away to keep the tires from going flat. In fact, if you have trees in your yard, the cheap wheelbarrow tires may not make it across your yard once.  The best tire sealant for lawn & garden: Slime Tire Sealant. Don’t mess around – please put 16 oz in each tire right away.

 Standard Lawn & Garden Tires. These tires have tread similar to the tread on your lawn tractor. Much thicker but they still go flat if you have lots of sticks, thorns or gravel. Again, save yourself the frustration and install 16 oz of Slime Tire Sealant. in each tire right away.

Commercial grade with tire sealant. The best tow behind carts come with the same quality tire that you find on commercial mowers and even have a tire sealant built into the tire. They will handle any size load without blowing out the sidewall. It will take a puncture the size of a pencil or larger before you will lose air.

My Four Top Tow Behind Carts

1. OxCart: The strongest, realistically priced tow behind cart is the OxCArt. Please click on this link to see all the advantages of this great cart.  OxCart Sell Sheet LR 052016. Features I really like are the hydraulic lift assist, flat-free tires and plenty of under axle clearance. I’d had one a year now and I’ve tried to break it – but it’s still like new! I compare all tow behind carts to my original 40-year-old John Deere 80 cart and this is one of the very few that is as durable, strong and long-lasting. I really can’t say enough good things about this cart. It works for anything you need to do around your home, farm, horse stables, ranch and nursery. Note: it does not have ball bearing hubs  – instead it uses a tough alloy that will hold up to use behind an ATV. I would not be concerned to load it up with 500 lbs of supplies and go check the fence lines of a Wyoming Ranch. This cart is better than you will find at the big box home centers and is normally sold at farm stores and Rural Lifestyle dealers.  There is an optional handle set to convert it to a wheelbarrow. You can buy it here: Oxcart Lift-Assist and Swivel Dump Cart, 12 cu.

Click on each picture to see a larger view.

Forgot and left it out last fall.
After a 9 inch rain.
Yes, those are 90 lb bags of cement

The Cub Cadet hauler is always outside.

Cub Cadet Hauler: I never paid a lot of attention to this tow behind cart but Cub Cadet sent me three years ago and it has become my wife’s favorite cart. It’s a tough cart that holds all her plant supplies and the best thing she likes about it is – it doesn’t hold water! She never puts it inside the shed so it sits outside all the time. All the other poly carts hold water so she always had water-logged plants and supplies in the past. The water runs right out of the Cub Cadet Hauler so her stuff never gets ruined.  It has the flat-free tires so I never expect to have a flat. You can click on the link a see some of the other features that make this a great cart. It folds up and sits upright in a corner of your shed when not in use. If you do a lot of yard work and want a cart that will last this is a really great choice. There is also an optional wheelbarrow handle and rack for shovels and rakes. The best place to buy this cart is at The Home Depot. Cub Cadet Hauler Tow-Behind Dump Cart Model# 19A40026100 

Click to see larger image

Agri-Fab: Agri-Fab makes many different steel and poly tow behind carts. My choice for the best steel cart that will last is the Agri-Fab 45-0240 Dump Cart at Amazon. 1200 lb capacity, good quality tires and you can use it without the tailgate and it won’t warp over time. It tougher than most steel tow behind carts and will last you many years. 

Ohio Steel: Yes, Ohio Steel also makes quality steel and poly carts but they also have my choice for a great Structural Foam tow behind cart. Heavy duty hitch and axle. The good tires. A feature I like is the stake pockets. If you are hauling mulch, leaves or brush you can add extensions to the sides for even more capacity. Check it out on Amazon here: Ohio Steel 4048PSD Heaped Poly Dump Cart With Swivel Dump 



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