A wheelbarrow is a key piece of equipment around the smallholding, allotment, home and garden. It saves time and it helps you avoid back strain and repeated journeys to and fro.

Here are the main ways that you can repay your wheelbarrow for its labour.

1. The handles

If the wheelbarrow has wooden handles then try to clean them after each job. Once the mud dries on them it takes more time and effort to clean than if you just give them a good brush and wipe.

If they are beginning to splinter then giving them a light sand then feeding them with olive or linseed oil will revive the wood and protect it from weather.

If the handles are plastic then a good brush and wipe down after each use will keep them clean.

2. The barrow

The barrow should be cleaned after each use and the longer you leave it between cleans, the more time consuming and laborious the process is.

Use a hard brush to brush and scrape earth out or a good strong blast with a hosepipe. Make sure it’s dry before you put it away so it doesn’t mould.

3. The axle

The axle needs oil to ensure smooth movement as the wheel turns. Regularly check that there is enough oil or grease and that it is running nicely. If your wheelbarrow has a grease fitting on the wheel apply grease to the bearing when necessary. If there isn’t a grease fitting, lubricate the axle with 3-in-1 oil.

4. The wheels

Keep an eye on the tyre and keep it inflated at 30 pounds per square inch.

There are few things as annoying as flat wheelbarrow tyres. If you keep getting them it may be worth investing in a flat free tyre.

They do cost more so work out how much you have spent – and may conceivably continue to spend – on inflatable tyres. Do your price research, too.

Flat free tyres are intended to last forever and you can buy an exact or a universal size. Some have such strong outer skins that they resist chemicals as well as punctures from stones and thorns. They are heavy duty but some are sold with year long guarantees, if you are in any doubt.

No more punctures, no more perishing, that’s a pretty persuasive argument!

5. The shed

All tools need to be stored in a shed or outbuilding and this is also true of the wheelbarrow. This keeps them hidden (and preferably locked) away from the view of light fingered disreputables but it also protects them from heat, sun, ice, snow and everything else that our weather gives us.

Rust, rot and blunt blades result from keeping tools outside and it means that you end up spending more time cleaning and maintaining than is fun.