Tires are a way of life. We pay for new ones as our old ones wear out, and we pay to have them disposed of. To me, it often feels like a never-ending rotation of cost. Plus, knowing that my worn-out tires are probably making their way to a landfill doesn’t make the situation any better. Because of this (and partially because I’m cheap), I have a few old tires that are simply taking up the room, I swear I’m going to upcycle them and put them to good use.
I’m a huge fan of DIY projects., Refurbishing and repurposing products have saved me quite a bit of money over the years and also provided me with unique, durable, and useful gardening tools. One of my goals this spring and summer is to put my recycled tires to use and the following list of ways to repurpose old tire ideas are some of the few I’m considering taking on!
Our initial impressions of worn-out tires are that they are dirty and grimy: after all, they have been used literally over thousands and thousands of miles of all sorts of unimaginable things. The good thing is that, through use, most anything unsavory has already been worn off the surface of the tire. Plus, with some simple scrubbing, you can get rid of any dirt or oil left on the tire easily to consider it for use indoors.
DIY tire chairs are all the rage. They can be used both indoor and out depending on how fancy you want it to get. Basically, all you need is a tire, some rope, and a drill to make a basic seat. But, you can also stack your tires, add cushions, or even create a sofa framework depending on how detailed you want to get by cutting tire halves as a backrest.
This is an awesome project that provides a place to sit, place books or drinks, or simply where you can rest your legs after a long day of work. A tire, a board, some screws, and a drill, plus heavy sisal rope (or anything else similar of your choice) creates an original ottoman you can match to your decor no matter where you decide to place it.
Similar to an ottoman, but with a more specific purpose in mind, consider making your tire into a coffee table. All you really have to do is add legs, but imagine the possibilities the surface provides! A piece of plexiglass over stained wood would create a great place to share favorite photographs, or even a piece of cut glass to look into the depths of a 3D showcase to your visitor’s delight!
Frame a mirror, pictures, memorabilia, or anything else you can think of by crafting a new way to view things out of old tires. This would be especially cool hanging in a garage, workshop, or a little boy’s race car-themed room.
You probably would never have considered using a tire for any sort of lighting purposes, either indoors or out. Surprisingly, these old tires can actually provide a very unique and durable way to add a touch of the unexpected. Using either electrical or solar sources, you can create a variety of creative lighting choices with tires of various sizes.
Hang a whole, halved, or even quartered tire on a wall with a basic light fixture to create your very own, unique wall sconce. You could even just use smaller pieces of textured rubber to repurpose or cover over worn-out existing fixtures.
Depending on how fancy you want to get, a simple drill, Sawzall, and a little imagination can get you well on the way to creating some pretty cool lighting effects by using old tires. The awesome things about placing lighting in a tire are; you can take advantage of the inner shape (whole or halved) to place even lighting through the entire thing and use either electrical or outdoor solar choices to hang or let sit wherever you want to make a lighting statement.
Children’s outside backyard play equipment has always included old tire swings, but there are so many more ways to repurpose old tires for playground usage. Rather than spend the money on prefabricated structures your children will only use for a handful of years, look at how you might incorporate used tires. It will not only help you save financially but also help create something that can be used again and again once your children grow out of it.
Climbing structures are easy to assemble with the help of a few well-placed sturdy bolts and a handy power drill. Create domes, pyramids, and hanging walls, or secure some well-placed posts and tires together for more vertical towering structures. They also can be cut and planted to create arching halves for children to run over and under.
Tires actually create awesome sandboxes. You can create a series of little ones, or by getting your hands on a larger tire tractor you can create a pretty big one as well. Tires can get warm in the hot summer sun, so be sure to paint them or more reflective color, or better yet, bolt a few sanded pine boards along the edges to provide a comfortable pace for your children to sit while they play.
Nothing reminds me more of summer than a tire swing. You can place them horizontally with a tree support rope (or chain) to sit multiple people, modify it to create a rope seat (similar to the tire chair described above), or hang vertically to sit within on upon and have fun all year long. There are also many patterns available that show you how to cut and create tire horses, dinos, motorcycles, etc to swing from. Just be sure to always use a VERY sturdy support beam!
Teeter-totters may be hard-pressed to come by in most playgrounds anymore, but you can make your own version by cutting a tire in half and attaching a board over the top of it. Be sure to choose strong, durable tires that are already rated as a heavyweight to ensure they won’t compress when in use. Plus, you can shore up the inside with smaller boards to help keep its structural integrity, as well as to attach the board you sit upon.
There is no doubt about it- tires are durable and built to last. Once they have been worn down and are no longer safe for vehicular use, they pretty much aren’t going to break down any further. This has created many environmental problems as they do not decompose or rot and the last few decades have seen some creative and innovative ways to put millions of old tires to new use. Many solutions have included using the whole tire, or shredded tires as pathways, or playground and pathway surfaces.
Walkways can be created in a variety of ways. Shredded tires are popular to surface pathways, playgrounds, and even to use as a mulch, as it provides an extremely long-lasting, giving a surface to walk upon. You can find shredded tires in most tire recycling centers, or even make your own with the rental of an industrial-grade shredder.
The tire tread can also be cut from the rest of the tire to create long strips that can be manipulated into walkways. The natural rubber provides a great grip for your feet and can be utilized in places where it may be slick, or steep to provide extra traction. It also can be cut and added to steps, or to cushion edges. By cutting them into stepping stones you also provide a place to stand or walk through garden beds.
Tires make excellent garden bed borders. Use as a whole and take advantage of their shape as a way to add further vegetation, or take pieces to provide edging, raised borders, or anything else you can think of. Not only are they sturdy in nature and long-lasting, but also provide an interesting texture. They can be colored easily, and help keep erosion from occurring.
As mentioned, tire rubber can provide excellent traction along your stairs, but they also provide excellent structure for a hillside stairway. Halved or whole, you can bury them into your steep slopes, fill them with rocks and/or dirt, and know you have created a dependable, long-lasting way up and down the hillside.
Since rubber is a sealant, old tires make excellent support and shape for ponds. They are easy to bury, stack, or tier to create small tranquil ponds or meandering bubbling brooks. The hollow of the tire can also serve as an excellent place to tuck the roots of your favorite water plants to keep them from growing out of control. Plus, they can be stacked to create fountains as well for even further interest.
Using tires in your garden as planters provide an incredible array of ideas to take advantage of. Their shape already lends themselves to a more traditional design for use on patios, porches, and decks, plus they are sturdy and can be used with other materials to provide you with exactly what you may be envisioning.
They can be stacked, hung, cut, and attached to surfaces with simple hardware, and really don’t require any special considerations. Tires have been used for decades in this manner, and despite there being chatter over safety concerns, no trials or tests have yielded safety concerns with tires being used in this manner.
Stack tires one on top of the other, or place next to each other, or even vary sizes to fill with potting soil and plant with all your summertime favorites. These make excellent ways to show off your annuals, help separate certain veggies, or even designate your kitchen herb garden from the rest of the yard. Paint the tires to better match your decor and keep the heat from being absorbed as black tires can heat up the soil, within, quickly.
This may be my favorite idea ever: hang your tire (or series of tires) along a fence or outer wall and plant within it draping, cascading, blooming flowers. There are so many creative ways you can take advantage of this idea with added lighting, paint, or other whimsical garden features. Just be sure to drill a water drain hole or two to keep from flooding out your plant roots.
If you cut a design out of the edge of your tire you can peel back the rubber and create a unique way to display your summertime flowering favorites. Zig-zags, scalloped edges, even larger-than-life lace-like designs can adorn your tire planters that look right at home along with your decks and porches.
Some veggies need space and do well as container plants. Tomatoes, peppers, and other upright plants like the space provided when they are planted well away from other vegetation. Stacking tires, rather than wooden frames also will give you the perfect potato tower from which you can grow and harvest potatoes well into the colder months.
Let’s face it, the durability of tires provides the perfect foundation to create a myriad of shapes and forms for an endless supply of ideas for year-round, outdoor decor. Plus, they aren’t going to weather, rot, or otherwise break down through the many seasonal temperature changes they may be faced with. Step up your yard decoration game with a few of the examples I’ve provided below:
When entertaining outdoors I always feel like the garbages is too spaced out for people to toss their trash. Stack a few painted tires throughout your yard to create colorful supports for your trash bags in places that are easy to get to and allow guests to naturally linger without tripping over one.
Stack a few tires and custom paint them to make fun, fictional characters. Your favorite children’s cartoons, movie stars, and other tv personalities can easily be recreated to your children’s delight. This can serve for holiday fun or simple all-year interest and is sure to get your neighbor’s attention.
Cut a tire lengthwise to create a wholly unique foundation for a wreath, or use it as is. You can also take advantage of the opening it creates for living plants, small dioramas, lighting, or any other crafty items you can think of. Since tires are often much larger than what you would want to hang on your front door, these can be seriously interesting decorations to hang from trees or mount on a large garage or barn walls.
Stacking up tires to create a whimsical wishing well has never been easier. This is a fun project that you can add your own personal touches to, and unless you look closely, looks just like a small wishing well in your yard.
Since tires essentially do not biodegrade easily and require friction and exposure to other environmental factors to even begin to wear it down- using tires in a more protected environment dictates a possible life of tens of thousands of years. This makes them an ideal choice for certain structural foundational supports, and if you have any large projects requiring a strong, long-lasting framework, you may want to consider tires as a possibility.
Retaining walls, garden walls, or even housing structural walls can be created using old stacked tires. These are especially useful in areas where they can be covered and well protected from the elements to last as long as possible. Stucco is a popular finishing for tire walls, as it is easy to shape and mold over the curving, more flowing surface created by the tires.
This same idea can be utilized to create fencing or fun playground barriers. Plus, if designed right, you can use the top row as a planter, and create a living structure.
There are just SO many variations of the ideas I proposed, as well as an endless supply of examples and different things made out of old tires. There is no way I could list them all here. These old tire ideas are anything but old and illustrate the many creative, unique ways you can put to use all those old tires lying about.
I’d love to hear which ideas are your favorite. And if you have anything else you want to add to our list below, feel free to let us know. And, as always, please share!