Living sustainably is often about finding new ways to use old things. One person’s trash is, after all, another person’s treasure.
By reusing and upcycling old tires, for example, we can save money and resources.
Reusing and recycling in a range of different ways can reduce the number of new things we have to buy. But learning how to upcycle old tires is also a great way to go greener.
It prevents them from ending up in landfill or polluting the wider environment.
Before we get into the options, it might be useful to take a closer look at old tires. We should consider where and how it is safe to use them.
Tires can be very useful in your garden and around your homestead. But before you definitely decide how and where to use them, think about what they are made of.
It is important to understand that tires are made up of a range of substances. Some of these can pose a risk to human and animal health and the wider environment.
Should I Upcycle Old Tires at Home?
There are plenty of lists out there of ways to upcycle old tires. But many of them make suggestions that are not necessarily a very good idea.
In this article, I will list 35 ways to upcycle old tires in the garden. But you will note that all of these ideas allow you to make use of the tires outdoors.
I do not recommend introducing old tires into your home.
As the tires continue to break down and release toxins and metals etc. over time, I would keep them outdoors, and also avoid long-term use directly around vegetables.
Short term, tires are often used around edible crops.
Opinion is divided about whether or not this is really a good idea. You might be concerned about substances being released and up-taken by the food you grow.
If so, it is best to create a barrier layer inside your tires to keep the growing area freer from contamination.
Ideally, we should all be trying to reduce the number of tires we buy, use and throw away.
In some places, tires are municipally recycled, or retreaded to reduce the number of new tires that have to be made. Where this is the case, you might be better to make sure your tires get to the right place.
But many tires are burned – releasing harmful emissions – or sent to landfill. In these cases, the greener option is to try to reuse them at home.
By their nature, tires pose a waste problem. But their useful lives can be longer when we upcycle them on the homestead.
We do have to be careful how and where we use them. But tires used in the garden or outside spaces can be incredibly useful.
Using them can also help us to reduce our environmental impact.
Upcycle Old Tires in a Range of Ambitious Projects
We can re-purpose the tires we use ourselves on our homesteads in a range of different ways. We may even have use for the tires that others might otherwise throw away.
If there is a problem with recycling tires in your area, perhaps you could play your part by taking on one of these ambitious projects.
These projects use not one tire, or just a few – but many.
1. Make An Earthship Home
One of the most ambitious projects you could consider is making a home using old tires. Earthships are a type of sustainable home.
They use principles of passive solar design to keep things at a comfortable temperature all year round. They are constructed entirely from recycled and natural materials.
These buildings are green homes that can be built in any part of the world.
They can provide for all the household’s energy and water requirements and also many of its food needs. The walls are built simply – often largely constructed of car tires rammed full with earth.
The walls also often contain plastic and glass bottles and other household trash.
If you are ambitious, tires might not just be used around your homestead – they might even be used to build your home. If you are interested in this idea, and want to learn more, a great place to begin is with the link below:
Earthships @ Greenhomebuilding.com
2. Create an Earth-Sheltered Greenhouse
Using similar principles to those used in Earthship construction, you could also consider making an earth-sheltered greenhouse.
An earth-sheltered greenhouse also works to the principles of passive solar design. Rammed earth can be retained within old tires to create solid walls for the structure.
This can be built into a slope, or be almost entirely below ground level.
Earth Sheltered Tire Greenhouse @ steemit.com
3. Create an Underground Bunker, Root Cellar or Cold Store
You could also try similar techniques to create other underground (or partially subterranean) structures.
Tires filled with earth will help to maintain a cool and constant temperature.
This can make a structure made from them ideal for food storage, or other storage needs. For an example, check out the root cellar made from old tires at the link below.
Building a Root Cellar @ timberbuttehomestead.com
4. Build a Retaining Wall
Tires can also be used to great effect in a number of garden landscaping projects. For example, rammed earth filled tires can make very effective (and affordable) retaining walls.
Tire retaining walls can be used to prevent hillside and embankment erosion and are far cheaper than other solutions for steeply sloping sites.
Tire Retaining Walls @ Pangeabuilders.com
5. Create Terraces on a Sloping Site
Not only can you use earth-filled tires to build single retaining walls, you can also use them to form a series of level terraces on a sloping site.
Forming terraces could slow erosion and water and nutrient loss.
It could also provide level zones for building or growing. The small walls created using tires can help to support your new landscaping, and, again, are a much cheaper option than using new materials for the purpose.
Find an excellent example of tire terracing by following the link below.
Terraced Retaining Walls With Old Tires @ motherearthnews.com
6. Upcycle Old Tires to Make Garden Stairs
Another way to make use of old tires on a sloping site is to fill them with soil and use them to create a simple staircase.
This might make access easier, without going to huge expense.
Tire garden stairs are simple and rustic. But they can still look very attractive in the right setting. For details of how to create tire stairs on your homestead, check out the link below.
Tire Stairs @ permatree.org
7. Make a Beautiful Backyard Pond
One final suggestion to make use tires in landscaping is to use some to make a beautiful backyard pond or water feature.
You could use tire walls to make a larger, deeper pond or reservoir construction if you want to undertake a larger project. (Lined either with a pond liner or natural clay.)
But if you just have a few tires, you could also consider a smaller water feature as in the link below.
Recycled Tires Pond @ handimania.com
Upcycle Old Tires To Aid in Food Production
You may not have the time to source a large number of tires. Nor will you necessarily have the ability to take on one of the larger projects described above.
Fortunately, there are a range of easier, smaller projects that you could consider. You can upcycle one or a few old tires on your homestead in many ways.
These ideas can aid you, either directly or indirectly, in food production.
8. Make Bed Edging for Growing Areas
Upcycled tires can make great bed edging for your growing areas.
As mentioned above, you might not want to place edible plants in close proximity to tires.
But even if you do not want to use tires as simple planters for edible crops, you could still consider using them to make bed edging for your growing areas.
You could consider, for example placing half tires upright in the soil to create a simple fence to demarcate your growing zones.
Tire Garden Border @ pinterest.com
9. Fill Tires to Make Raised Bed Edging
You could also edge raised beds with rows of earth-filled tires planted up with companion plants.
If you are using tires as planters in this way, it is worth noting that black tires will heat up quickly. So these may be a better option for cooler climate zones.
You could also consider painting tires a lighter colour, so they do not retain as much heat.
Placing smaller tires around the edges of a raised bed could help to retain the soil within, and could be planted up with flowers and other non-edible plants that will attract pollinators for plants within the main growing area.
10. Upcycle Old Tires to Make Decorative Planters
Another way to use old tires in your garden is to stack old tires to make decorative planters.
Some people simply fill a large tractor tire and use this as a stand-alone raised bed. Others stack tires one on top of the other to create a range of planters of different heights.
If you are concerned about chemical leaching, and want to grow edible crops within these planters, you could consider lining the raised beds, or placing another receptacle within the tires so they do not come into contact with the growing medium.
Build a Raised Bed from Tires @ instructables.com
You can also make your tire planters or raised beds more decorative and attractive by:
- Painting them in a range of different colours to match your garden design.
- Wrapping them with natural twine.
- Creating an outer coating with upcycled wood or other materials.
11. Create Wall Mounted Tire Planting Areas
If you only have a small amount of growing space available, a tire mounted on a wall can be used as a planter.
This is one vertical garden solution to help you make the most of your space. Tires can be fixed onto an ugly or boring wall, painted, and planted up with ornamental plants.
They can make such a wall into a feature rather than an eyesore.
Upcycled Tire Wall Planter @ wholefully.com
12. Make a Hanging Tire Planter
You might not have a wall that you could attach a tire to. But you could still turn a tire into a planter and suspend it vertically from a rope.
A hanging tire planter could be perfect for a balcony or porch, or even provide additional growing space in a greenhouse or sturdy, large polytunnel.
Such planters might not be used for edible food. But they could help you grow your own by attracting beneficial wildlife if used to grow a range of flowers year round.
DIY Hanging Tire Planter @ birdsandblooms.com
13. Scare the Crows With a Tire Stack Scarecrow
Another way to upcycle old tires on your homestead is to make a tire stack scarecrow.
This may not directly help in food production. But a tire scarecrow might just help to protect your crops.
Even if it does not, the project might be fun. Perhaps making one could be a good activity to enjoy with kids?
Tire Stack Scarecrow @ sowanddipity.com
14. Stack Tires to Store Composting Materials
You could also use a stack of tires to make a valuable compost to aid you in your growing endeavors.
A tire stack lined with a suitable material could be used as a composting bin.
The heat provided by the tire structure could help speed up composting in cool weather areas.
In hotter areas, the stack should be painted or covered with a lighter material in order to prevent the compost from overheating or drying out too much.
Tire Stack Composter @ farminmypocket.co.uk
15. Upcycle Tires to Make Bug Hotels
If you have a tire or two sitting around, you can make them work for you.
Turn them into homes for a range of beneficial bugs and other wildlife.
Remember, the more wildlife you can attract to your garden, the more effective your organic growing efforts will be.
Tire Bug Hotel @ vickymyerscreations.co.uk
16. Make a Tire Dust Bath for Backyard Hens
Chickens sure can make a mess if they take a dust bath in your growing areas! Why not give them a dedicated dust bath area made from an old tire?
Simply position a tire in a sunny spot. Fill it with soil/ sand and let your chickens scratch around and bathe without digging up your garden.
Repurposing Old Tires into Chicken Baths @ weedemandreap.com
Upcycle Old Tires To Make Furniture
As mentioned earlier in this article, I would not recommend using tires inside your home. But today, our gardens have become extensions to our homes.
Many of us sit, relax, cook, eat and entertain outdoors.
Upcycled tires can be used to make a wide range of outdoors furniture for your outside zones.
Here are some examples of just some of the interesting things you could make from upcycled tires on your homestead:
17. Make Tire Stools
There are a number of easy ways to make some simple stools to sit on in your garden.
Using old tyres for the purpose is, perhaps, one of the very easiest.
You can cover your stools in a weatherproof material, as in the link below, or keep things simple and just string paracord across the hole at the top to create a place to sit.
Tires to Stools @ instructables.com
18. Create a Tyre Coffee Table
You can also use an old tyre to create a beautiful rope-wrapped coffee table.
While some people are perfectly happy to incorporate upcycled tire furniture in their homes, this idea could also also work for a covered seating area outdoors if you would rather not have them inside.
You could also simply paint the tire with eco-friendly paint and top with glass or marine ply for a more durable outdoors table.
Table from an Old Tyre @ wikihow.com
19. Create an Upcycled Tire Outdoor Dining Table
You could also place a tire on longer legs to make a small outdoor dining table for your homestead. Or stack tyres and add a water-resistant table top to make a larger table as in the image linked to below.
This could be an affordable and effective way to create an outdoor dining space in your garden.
Tire Stack Table @ pinterest.co.uk
20. Use Tires to Make Comfortable Seats
There are also a range of ways to make comfortable seating for your garden using upcycled tires.
You do not have to stick to making simple stools.
Old tires can also be used to make a range of attractive and innovative chairs for your garden. Check out one example at the link below.
Tire Chairs @ familyhandyman.com
21. Upcycle Old Tires to Make an Outdoors Sofa
You could also extend your tire patio furniture repertoire and construct something along the lines of this tire couch.
It could be perfect for a relaxed seating area in your garden. You could also customise it in a range of different ways to fit in with your garden design.
Tire Couch @ pinterest.co.uk
22. Make Half-Tire Hammocks
If you have kids that need a space to sit and relax, you could also make a large tire into a couple of half-tire hammocks.
Simply secure both ends of the half tire section to sturdy rope or chains and tie these from mature trees or other suitable supports.
Half Tire Hammocks @ littlethings.com
23. Make Some Tire Recycling Bins
Another handy piece of outside furniture for your garden might be some tire trash bins.
Stacks of tires could provide a handy way to separate your recycling and keep things orderly. Simply line your tire stacks with biodegradable bags to keep everything in order for collection.
Kids could be encouraged to recycle by painting the tires and labelling them clearly on the sides.
Tire Recycling Bins @ pinterest.com
24. Make a Tire Sink Stand
If you have an outside tap, you could make it more functional by placing a simple basin beneath it.
This can be useful on a homestead for washing home-grown produce, cleaning up and preventing water waste.
Simply stack tires to create a stand of the appropriate height. Then source an old washing up basin that fits within the hole in the top.
How To Make a Tire Sink Stand @ youtube.com
25. Tire Wall Shelves
A tire can also be used as an outer frame for a set of shelves. The shelving could be ideal for a shed, or summerhouse, or to tidy up a kids play area outdoors.
This very simple idea can be customised in a range of different ways to create a practical solution for storage and space saving.
DIY Shelves from a Used Tire @ spaceshipsandlaserbeams.com
26. Tire Umbrella Stand
Finally, why not upcycle old tires to make umbrella stands to place outside your doors. This is another simple way to use a single tire and can look good as well as serving a practical function.
Umbrella Holder From One Recycled Tire @ recylart.org
Upcycle Old Tires For Kids Play
If you have kids, you might also like to consider the many ways that you can upcycle old tires to give them new ways to play.
Here are some of the best ideas for kids play involving old tires:
27. Create a Simple Tire Swing
One of the easiest ways to upcycle an old tire for kids play is to make a simple tire swing.
Such a swing could hang from a dedicated frame, or be suspended from a mature tree on your property. Find simple instructions on how to make one by following the link below.
Tire Swing @ instructables.com
28. Upcycle Old Tires To Make an Obstacle Course
Another easy way to provide fun and entertainment for kids is to make an obstacle course on your property using old tires.
You could simply place some on the ground for kids to step into, or place larger tires vertically in or on the ground to make play tunnels for them to crawl through.
If you are even more ambitious, you could create a series of tire rope swings so the kids have to swing and step from one to the next.
Using just simple, reclaimed materials such as tires, logs and pallet wood, you could make a whole adventure playground.
Simple DIY Tire Obstacle Course @ frogsandsnailsandpuppydogtail.com
29. Make a Jungle Gym With Old Tires
Even in a smaller garden, you can make a jungle gym using tires and other reclaimed materials.
Such a set up would be a great way to keep kids active and encourage them to spend more time outdoors. Find instructions to make a simple jungle gym using old tires at the link below.
Tire Jungle Gym @ wideopencountry.com
30. Upcycle an Old Tire to Make a Teeter-Totter
Little kids will love this simple rocking toy made from half an old tire. Why spend a fortune on kids toys? They can have hours of fun with something like this that costs next to nothing to make.
Tire Teeter-Totter @ instructables.com
31. Use a Tire To Make a Mini Trampoline
With a little ingenuity, you could also use a large tractor tyre to make a small trampoline.
Kids will have hours of fun jumping and unlike so many other trampolines available to buy on the market, this type is definitely heavy enough not to blow away.
Tire Trampoline @ pinterest.co.uk
32. Create a Ride-On Toy From an Old Tire
By creating a seat on a small tyre and attaching wheels to the base, you can make a range of ride-on toys for little kids.
Add extra features and your tire can become all sorts of different vehicles or animals. Such toys are great for encouraging imaginative play.
33. Upcycle an Old Tire to Make a Sand Box
Another easy way to give kids hours of fun is to turn a tyre into a sand box feature.
Place your tire in a suitable spot, fill it with sand, and cover it over when not in use. Provide buckets and spades and other toys, and kids can entertain themselves for ages.
The Easiest DIY Sandbox @ creatingreallyawesomefunthings.com
34. Make Tire Animals for Kids’ Play Zones
Tires can also be turned into a range of garden art installations. Some cool ideas involve turning tires into a range of different animals.
These could be great additions to kids’ play zones and their new ‘friends’ might be another enticement to spend more time in the garden.
For example, check out the cute frog in this link:
How To Make ‘Frieda La Frog’ From Recycled Tires @ twowomenandahoe.com
35. Make Tire Toadstools for a Fairy Garden
Finally, why not consider making some toadstools to upcycle old tires? This idea could work well in a fairy garden.
Surround your new art installation with some lush planting and your kids can await the arrival of some magical creatures.
Make Garden Stools That Look Like Toadstools @ grillo-designs.com
These 35 ways to upcycle old tires should inspire you to make use of old tires on your homestead. So don’t throw out old tires – use them to live more sustainably and work towards a zero waste lifestyle.