Forgot Password?
Home arrow GreeniacsGuides arrow Recycling arrow Use for Old Tires
Written by Natalya Stanko   
Share |
Thursday, 19 May 2011

Use for Old Tires

Old tires are easy to come by. The United States alone generates about 300 million scrap tires per year.1 That's about one tire for every resident! In 1990, only 17% of scrap tires were reused, retreaded, or recycled in the United States. Fortunately, that figure rose to over 80% in 2003. Today, about 45% of scrap tires are used as fuel, and about 19% are recycled or used in civil engineering projects.2 About 1.7% of tires are used for creating miscellaneous stuff, which is the kind of stuff you’ll learn to make in this guide! Worn tires are surprisingly easy to reuse in your garden, your home, and even your children's play area

BENEFITS FOR THE ENVIRONMENT: When improperly disposed of, tires take up space in landfills and provide breeding grounds for rodents and mosquitoes. Reusing your tires for practical projects gives old tires a new life. Making your own swing, retaining wall, or shed out of old tires instead of buying new wooden or plastic products also saves energy and natural resources.

Cost: Low. Old tires are free and abundant!

Time and effort: Varies, low-high, depending on the chosen project.

Getting Started on Your Tire-Based Projects:

Before beginning most of these projects, you should wash your tire/s. Scrub both the inside and outside of the tire with soap, water, and bleach. If you don't find the end-product aesthetically pleasing, remember that you can always paint your tire in bright colors!

Projects for the Garden
  • Protect newly planted trees from mowers. Cut a tire once (as if you were cutting a bracelet off your wrist). Then place the tire around the sapling. Once the trunk has grown to the size of the tire, remove the tire.

  • Prevent erosion on steep slopes by building a retaining wall out of tires. Use a sledgehammer to pack the tires tightly with soil. A 15-inch tire will require about 300 lbs of earth. Stack the tires in a staggered fashion, just like a brick wall. Stuff mud, tin cans, and rocks into the holes between the tires, and then apply cement plaster.3 If you're building a retaining wall for the first time, don't build it too high, as a poorly constructed wall may endanger you and your family.

  • Create a pole foundation, which you can use as a trellis for climbing plants. A sturdy pole is also handy when hanging a clothesline or building a sunshade. Lay a tire down flat, line the bottom with newspaper, and pour concrete into the tire.

Tire Retaining Wall
Tire Retaining wall4

  • Make a flower planter. Your tire can have a rim or not—if it does have a rim, the planter will be elevated with a “stem.” Lay a tire down flat and cut out a scalloped circle to mimic the petals of a flower. Then turn the tire inside out. Spray with a good degreaser, let dry, and paint a bright color.5 Once you've mastered these planters, let your creativity flow!

Flower Planters
Flower planters 6

  • Before building garden beds, cold frames, and compost bins out of tires, do your research! Although these projects have been popularized by many thrifty gardeners, they might pose health hazards. Tires "can leach cadmium and other heavy metals into the soil as they weather, and must never be used for garden or compost containers because cadmium is very harmful to human and animal health.”7 Some say that the metals do not leech in amounts large enough to pose a health risk, but I prefer to abide by the precautionary principle and skip these projects. Why would I needlessly endanger my food supply? If you do decide to plant in tires, use well-aged tires because they will contain less toxins to leech. Plant vegetables such as green beans and cucumbers, which have a low susceptibility to cadmium uptake. Avoid spinach, garlic, potatoes, and carrots.8

  • Another popular project that you might want to avoid is filling a tire with water to make a small backyard pond. Stagnant water attracts mosquitoes and rodents.
Projects for the Kids!
  • Build a sandbox for the little ones. Fill a large tire (preferably a tractor tire) with sand. When not in use, cover the sandbox with a tarp to detract kitties.

  • Construct an old-fashioned tire swing. Thread a rope through a rubber tube (to protect the tree). Make holes in the bottom of the tire to prevent pooling water and breeding insects. Hang the rope over a sturdy tree branch and secure it to the tree and tire with square or double-overhand knots.9

  • Construct a sturdy pole to post a volleyball net or a tether ball! As described above, lay a tire down flat, line the bottom with newspaper, and pour concrete inside the tire to create a pole foundation. If you need more weight, add another tire, of equal or lesser size, on top of the original tire and fill it with concrete.10

  • Get creative with your kids! Use tires to build an elaborate pony swing11 or a one-of-a-kind obstacle course!
Projects for your Home
  • Stabilize your pet's water bowl by putting a tire around it. Now even the most energetic dog won't be able to tip his or her drink over!

  • Protect your car from scrapes. Hang a tire on your rear garage wall. Alternatively, cut a tire into strips, and then nail the strips to the walls at the same height as your car's bumper.

  • Make driving even safer by lining your long driveway with tires. Bury the tires vertically about half-way into the ground, and then paint them with reflective tape.

  • Nail strips of tire on ramps and stairways to prevent slip and falls.

  • Construct a shed out of tires. To build the walls, pack the tires tightly with soil and stack them closely together. Then add a conventional beam-style hip roof.

  • Feeling creative? There are so many more uses for rubber tires. Make yourself a pair of garden sandals.

  • If you're really handy and looking for a major, life-changing project and investment, make a home out of tires!

Browse all Greeniacs Guides Browse all Greeniacs Guides        Browse all Greeniacs Articles


Comments (1)
RSS comments
1. 17-06-2013 10:38
reusable idea
i like tyres the idea you suggest is usable...

Only registered users can write comments.
Please login or register.

Click here to Register.  Click here to login.

Last Updated ( Friday, 12 October 2012 )


Green Facts

  • Plastic bags and other plastic garbage thrown into the ocean kill as many as 1,000,000 sea creatures every year.

  • A single quart of motor oil, if disposed of improperly, can contaminate up to 2,000,000 gallons of fresh water.

  • 82 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. come from burning fossil fuels.

  • You will save 100 pounds of carbon for each incandescent bulb that you replace with a compact fluorescent bulb (CFL), over the life of the bulb.

  • It takes 6,000,000 trees to make 1 year's worth of tissues for the world.

  • Turning off the tap when brushing your teeth can save as much as 10 gallons a day per person.

  • You’ll save two pounds of carbon for every 20 glass bottles that you recycle.

  • Recycling aluminum saves 95% of the energy used to make the material from scratch.

  • One recycled aluminum can will save enough energy to run a 100-watt bulb for 20 hours, a computer for 3 hours, or a TV for 2 hours.

  • In California homes, about 10% of energy usage is related to TVs, DVRs, cable and satellite boxes, and DVD players.

  • A tree that provides a home with shade from the sun can reduce the energy required to run the air conditioner and save an additional 200 to 2,000 pounds of carbon over its lifetime.

  • You will save 300 pounds of carbon dioxide for every 10,000 miles you drive if you always keep your car’s tires fully inflated.

  • An aluminum can that is thrown away instead of recycled will still be a can 500 years from now!

  • Americans use 100 million tin and steel cans every day.

  • Recycling for one year at Stanford University saved the equivalent of 33,913 trees and the need for 636 tons of iron ore, coal, and limestone.

  • Glass can be recycled over and over again without ever wearing down.

  • 77% of people who commute to work by car drive alone.

  • A steel mill using recycled scrap reduces related water pollution, air pollution, and mining wastes by about 70%.

  • American workers spend an average of 47 hours per year commuting through rush hour traffic. This adds up to 23 billion gallons of gas wasted in traffic each year.

  • Recycling 100 million cell phones can save enough energy to power 18,500 homes in the U.S. for a year.

  • Rainforests are being cut down at the rate of 100 acres per minute.

  • If every U.S. household turned the thermostat down by 10 degrees for seven hours each night during the cold months, and seven hours each weekday, it would prevent nearly gas emissions.

  • Every week about 20 species of plants and animals become extinct.

  • The World Health Organization estimates that 2 million people die prematurely worldwide every year due to air pollution.

  • Recycling 1 million laptop computers can save the amount of energy used by 3,657 homes in the U.S. over the course of a year.

  • Nudge your thermostat up two degrees in the summer and down two degrees in the winter to prevent 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.

  • Due to tiger poaching, habitat destruction, and other human-tiger conflicts, tigers now number around 3,200—a decrease in population by about 70% from 100 years ago.

  • In the United States, automobiles produce over 20 percent of total carbon emissions. Walk or bike and you'll save one pound of carbon for every mile you travel.

  • Current sea ice levels are at least 47% lower than they were in 1979.

  • Shaving 10 miles off of your weekly driving pattern can eliminate about 500 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions a year.

  • Less than 1% of electricity in the United States is generated from solar power.

  • Americans throw away enough aluminum to rebuild our entire commercial fleet of airplanes every 3 months

  • Washing your clothes in cold or warm instead of hot water saves 500 pounds of carbon dioxide a year, and drying your clothes on a clothesline six months out of the year would save another 700 pounds.

  • Refrigerators built in 1975 used 4 times more energy than current models.

  • States with bottle deposit laws have 35-40% less litter by volume.

  • For every 38,000 bills consumers pay online instead of by mail, 5,058 pounds of greenhouse gases are avoided and two tons of trees are preserved.

  • A laptop consumes five times less electricity than a desktop computer.

  • Bamboo absorbs 35% more carbon dioxide than equivalent stands of trees.

  • Americans throw away more than 120 million cell phones each year, which contribute 60,000 tons of waste to landfills annually.