How can I reuse or recycle old used tyres (tires)?

old used car tyresWe’ve had an email from Neil Williams about used car tyres:

I’ve just moved into a new house and when I finally hacked through the nettles at the bottom of the garden, I found a set of old car tyres.

They look like they’ve been there for a good few years so probably aren’t any good for a car now and I know some companies make them into mouse pads and stuff but I was wondering what I can do with them myself.

My dad used to use tyres (AKA tires) as planters for growing veg – a single tyre became an instant raised beds for lettuce or herbs or a few stacked on top of each other became deep bins for potatoes. I guess the stacked ones could also be used as a compost heap too.

Any other suggestions?

Best Suggestions

  • Reduce: Drive more carefully – especially in terms of cornering, accelerating and breaking – and keep your tyres at the advised pressure level to extend their lifespan on your car.
  • Reuse: Use them to make quick raised beds for growing veg, either singly or stacked up on top of each other for growing root veg. A sheet of semi-rigid plastic or wood across the bottom one will suffice as a base if you want to move them around.
  • Recycle: Some recycling companies collect them for shredding – the resulting rubber is then either reprocessed into new items or used for soft landings in children’s play areas.
  • See the comments below for more suggestions and ideas

(Photo by dragon_art)

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123 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle old used tyres (tires)?”

  1. raised beds for said garden

    • renee says:

      not so good for the vege patch if you intend on eating things from it…they leach out horrid toxins into the soil.

      • pete metcalfe says:

        Hello Renee ,
        I googled tyres and leaching to find out if, in anyones opinion tyres leached anything into the environment.

        You state they ,” leach horrid toxins into the soil ” . I’d like to know if this is your opinion or there is sientific proof of this .

        I need to know about this as I was/am intending to recycle tyres in a paticular way, one that would see them in waterways .
        Which, to my way of thinking, would keep them cold [ read other comments – hot and smelling – ] and I’ll keep checking , but seem to recall an artificial reef being built of them someplace .
        Concider the millions of car tyres worn off on the worlds roads, all of which end up washing into the waterways via the drains and no body is saying anything about this !. Rubber is a natural product is it not !?.
        Regards Pete.

      • bill says:

        They tried making a reef off the Florida coast and it killed the nearby wildlife. They have working for a couple of years on a plan and funding to retrieve the tires.

      • Philip says:

        Car tires are made from highly toxic petrochemicals, not natural rubber. But as pressure molded tiers these chemicals are in a very stable form and highly resistant to decomposition. Of course this is the problem! Tires don’t decompose. It takes decades of sunlight for a tire’s surface to start braking down, underground they will probably last for many hundreds of years.

        The danger of chemicals leaching out of tires into soil is minimal. The chemicals that are most dangerous to soil contamination are the solvents used to make the tires and they are largely gone by the time a tire is worn out. What little is left is locked up within the rubberized mass of the tire and is released in micro amounts as the tire brakes down. The possible exposure levels are so small compared to what you breath in as you drive or walk down a street, I would not be worried.

  2. Stack them on top of each other, fill them with soil, and use them to grow potatoes. Add a couple of tyres and pile them up as the potatoes start to develop leaves. And then as they flow pull the stack apart tyre by tyre and collect the spuds.

    • Katz says:

      It is good not only for potatoes, but for flowers and fruit as well. I once saw a planter like this – they stacked the tires onto each other and made wholes in the sides of the tires, then filled it with earth and planted strawberries in every whole – different types, and a tomato plant on the top – it looked good. You can then paint tyres in different colours!

  3. Scott says:

    Add a bit of leather, and you have a few pairs of rugged sandals:

    • Kaz says:

      I know a guy who takes his docs to a shoe repair place for re-soling every 3 years or so. The repair man uses tyres for it, because they apparently wear so well and are very comfy. My friend has had the same pair of docs for about 20 years, and swears that the re-soled boots are comfier than they were with their original sole intact.

    • Lisa Brown says:

      These are amazing. I’ve been wanting to learn to do this for sooo long since I’ve been collecting tires for years now in my garage. These are fantastic!

  4. ME says:

    You could use it to make a tyre swing.

    • Dave Reckoning says:

      We had a giant tire (tyre) in our back yard when we moved into our house. There was also an old swing set. Using some u-bolts, chains, an automotive wheel bearing, S-hooks, pull-springs and some other odd parts we had laying around, we constructed a swing/carousel that up to 4 children could ride at once, which provided many hours of fun for years until they outgrew it. You have to make sure your parts are sturdy and connections secure. It took a lot of drilling to mount those U-bolts on the tire (four U-bolts). We also drilled holes on the bottom to release rain water that might otherwise serve as breeding-ground for mosquitoes.

  5. Fazerlady says:

    If you have a boatyard nearby offer them there, when I used to live on a boat we were always losing them off of our bumpers and found it quite hard to find replacements.

  6. Moses McCrone says:

    you could make a den out of the tyres insted of useing them for growing vegatables

  7. Sarah Smart says:

    Earthships are self-contained buildings capable of sustaining an environment for human habitation made primarily from recycled materials including used car tyres and aluminium cans.

    or the C.A.T center in Wales use tyres to re roof there new alternative buildings. So if your roof needs re-tiling you could be a busy person. however the tyres where processed into flat tiles so maybe get in touch with them and ask if possible to do at home!

  8. debby says:

    I use old tyres in the spring to force rhubarb. When it just starts to push through the earth pile up two or three tyres over it and
    cover the top with a piece of wood(or an old black sack tucked under the top tyre). This makes the rhubarb grow long and a pretty shade of pink!

  9. Joshua says:

    I have made some of the sandals from the hollowtop website, but with steel radials (the website given says steel belts make it next to impossible).

    I also give tips on how to go about it that are a bit beyond the article.

  10. martin says:

    make mini green houses

    just add a sheet of clear polythene and there we are great for propagating

    i have about six alternating between green houses and composters

    motor cycle tyres are best especialy the 17 inch wide ones

  11. I know the Remarkable company use them to make pencil cases etc. so maybe you could contact them and see if they are interested in them.

  12. Karen Marie says:

    I’ve spent a bit of time and trouble making planters out of tires, maybe this is an option for those with ‘spare tires’ pardon the pun.

    Karen Marie

  13. Karlie says:

    My father use to fill a couple with concrete (put a piece of plywood or other filler on one side) and used them in the back of his truck for extra weight/traction in the snow.

    Our elementary school when I was growing up used the large tractor tires as sandboxes.

  14. KatyH says:

    Along the lines of a planter, use it to water your plants while your away. Punch a few holes on one broad side of the tire. Scoop/shovel a ring around the plant, then center the tire around a plant with the punched side on the ground. fill the tire as much as possible, and let the water slowly drip into the earth while you’re away

  15. Marco says:

    Does anybody know where I can buy thick sheets of rubber (around 0.5 inches thick)made from recycled tyres??


  16. Chell says:

    Is it poss that anyone can point me in the right direction for making the 4 tyres that i have in the garden into a wormery?

  17. Jakir Hussain says:

    cut them down and use them as shoes !!

  18. Anonymous says:

    cut the tyres up to form roof shingles for your garden shed.

  19. Katie says:

    alrite so my emails arnt that great doesnt mean im not smart or being serious about this, ANYWAY.
    right well maybe it would be good ive been searching all day for a manual step – by – step on how to recycle a tyre and give the machines that are used in this process.
    because the internet and all of you are soo annoying and lazy i cant believe how hard it is to get some info these days so yeah not to be rude but god i mean you just go round in circles :)
    so thankss.
    and it would be good to come on here in maybe a week and see one up here, and if things are a little slow perhaps a month . aightt byeeeeee

  20. tyler says:

    you can make rubber bands that are really strong out of the tubes. we use old tires for animal food bins screw woood under neath a tire and you got a food bin

  21. Pat says:

    In Morocco, they make strong buckets out of old tires and also sandals.

  22. John says:

    Does any company “chop up” old tyres into small pieces to be used for a path in the garden?

  23. is there a firm that buys used tyres from nigeria or that recycles in nigeria

  24. Jordan says:

    Where Can Tyres Be Put In west dumbartonshire

    You Can Make Park Ground And Astroturf

  25. scotty mclachlan says:

    u cood make a tyre swing wif tht

  26. i was inspired by all this and have begun working out how to recycle tyres
    definately go for the old tyres….i managed to cut through the steel cables in a modern tyre, but it took 3 hrs! and my arms are woobly now :)

  27. Jennifer says:

    Red Wriggler worms are the best for lombri-composting. But they need a comfortable temperature to survive. If you dont live in an place that gets frost in the morning, you could dig a shallow hole, put a tire around it and add your organic kitchen waste. Then, add several dozen worms and continue to feed them daily. you can harvest the compost by digging another hole next to it and placing the tire over that one. Or just plant a tree over it! Have fun!

  28. jane says:

    I don’t wanna make sandals/houses/veg growers/playgrounds or anything else out of tyres – I just wanna get rid of the stacks of them in my Grandma’s garden so I can sell the place!

  29. malise says:

    There are a number of companies that use old tyres mixed with sand to make the surface for riding arenas.

  30. jan says:

    I work for a company called Cardiff Recycling Ltd basd in South Wales and we recycle tyres into rubber chip for equestrian use and play areas. We also will supply very large tyres for schools etc for swings, sand pits etc free of charge to local area or to those willling to collect

  31. Angela says:

    I use tyres to hold the mulch in place around my fruit trees in the orchard.
    To disguise them, I pland herbs around the tyres.

  32. Olga says:

    Stuck few of hem on top of each other, cover with a piece of plywood to make garden table. Same goes for garden chairs.

  33. Karen says:

    Cut them in half with a recipricating saw, bury the cut end in the ground and watch your kids jump from one to the other.

    They also make decent mulch for a flower garden if they are thouroughly cleaned and chopped up to pieces.

    • Philip says:

      DO NOT cut car tires with any kind of saw! The dust created is highly toxic.

      • keith says:

        If tyre dust is so toxic, how come great swathes of the population that live in cities and next to motorways have’nt all dropped dead from rubber poisoning. Tons of tyre dust gets deposited on the roads every day. If it was so toxic I feel sure that (a) The busy bodies in the government would be doing something about it (b) The Green Brigade would be up in arms. And lets not forget that until recently, before green alternatives were available, tons of asbestos was dumped on the road from vehicle brake pads and shoes, but we have’nt all keeled over from mesothelioma.

  34. Irene says:

    Karen, can you please tell me what a recipricating saw is. My son spent all this afternoon trying to cut through the tyres I have to use as edging for raised beds. He broke 2 steel saw blades trying.

    • Karen says:

      A reciprocating saw is a saw that looks like a supersized electric cutting knife. In the US they are often called “Sawzall” which is a brand name. The cutting blade moves back and forth very fast. The blades are changable for different types of materials, wood, metal, concrete, etc. For cutting tires with a steel belt, Use a blade desiganated for metal. For a rough cut use a blade with larger teeth. For a neater smooth cut use a smaller toothed blade. My husband and I cut 8 tires in half in about 20 minutes (4 were steel belted). We ended up using 2 blades.

      Hope this helps!

  35. Maureen says:

    I have a large corner plot garden and two of the hedges are privet I hate privet hedges, to keep hold of the electric hedgecutters is hard work.
    I am thinking there are alot of used car tyres out there, if I put say 4 or five high laying on top of each other and bore some holes through them, paint them and then fill them with soil and plant an everygreen ie holly on top and flowers that come down over the side, would they look nicer instead of this tacky privet hedge, surely they would e a great windbreak in this cornish weather we have here in the UK.
    The garages are overloaded with these used tyres.
    Do you know of anybody that has done this?? Or what type of paint would I have to use.
    It would take me a while to do this but as I am galloping towards retirement i thought it may be an easier option on my arms rather than hedgecutting twice a year.

  36. RecycleBill says:

    I’ve found that circular saws, aka Skillsaws with carbide tipped blades are far better for cutting tires than reciprocal saws. A good circular saw will cut a tire in half in just seconds. Other saws take forever.

  37. Marcus says:

    I use a circular saw for cutting tires, no sweat. The first thing I ever made out of old tires is still my favorite and I think everyone should have
    a pair of these: I made some strap-on cushioned knee pads for using around the house and garden whenever I have to get down on my hands and knees for some project. They look like those ones used by
    guys who lay carpet, etc… The part that touches the ground is the tire
    material, but inside, against my tender knees I glued some large kitchen
    sponges for extra cushioning. Two of the teens in my neighborhood asked if they could have some of the scraps and a couple of days later I found out why. They copied my idea and made knee and elbow safety gear to use at the skateboard park! Way to go.

    • Philip says:

      WARNING. Do not cut car tires with any kind of saw, without the use of an industrial dust collector and breathing safety equipment! The dust created from car tires is highly toxic. If you must cut a tire, use a heavy duty razor blade or sissier action cutting tool.

  38. Marcus says:

    Contact anyone in your city who has anything to do with drivers-ed to see if they can use them. When I was learning to parallel park (as a teen, about 100 years ago) my uncle stacked old tires for me to practice
    parking between. I hit em a few times, but no harm was done.

  39. John says:

    I once saw a very interesting setup at a beach where a whole bunch of old tires were connected into a long row. They were anchored in a very
    secure manner and the whole bunch (about 20) made a really usefull looking public bicycle/motorcycle rack where you could park & lock up.

  40. Just been to the Eco Design Show as part of the Liverpool Design Festival and there was a stand there full of stiff made from tyres TREAD. Lovely work.

  41. Nick says:

    You could donate them to a fitness centre if they’re big, if not I’m sure a good primary school could find something to do with them.

  42. Stel says:

    Laid on their side, large tractor tyres are ideal field hay feeders for horses. They stop the hay being blown around and wastage from the horses trampling it into the mud.

  43. Philip says:

    This is a very good point. Sometimes leaving things as they are can be a practical solution given your circumstances, BUT if we all did this urban backyards would end up looking like 3rd world industrial sites. Unfortunately, persistent industrial waste does not respect international boundaries and we all end up eating and breathing other people’s waste.

  44. Barbara Barron says:

    The Machynlleth centre convert car tyres into roofing slates. They look very good, strong and fit for purpose.

  45. Wendy says:

    Our local tyre place lets you put a tyre in their skip if you give them £1 per tyre to cover their costs (they have to pay to have the skipful recycled properly). The skipful is sent to a proper recycling place (perhaps to be made into equestrian paddocks as above …)

  46. bridget mestrom says:

    You might be able to cut them up and make them in to baskets.

  47. theresa says:

    Get some clear packaging tape and tape all around the hole section of the tire (around both sides) and you have a wonderful tire drum. Use rhythm sticks to strike the drum with. Several music teachers that I know, including me, have had great success with our music classes using these drums. I was surprised to see that no one else had suggested this yet. Our custodians did eventually put the kabosh on the idea, however, as they said that there was a new school district policy directing them to dispose of these drums.

  48. Bertie says:

    How about filling one with concrete, placing a tube in the middle and using it as a parasol stand on the patio?

    Or a dartboard surround?

  49. Anne says:

    Does anyone know how to cut a used tire to use for a backboard for a dartboard?

    • Bertie says:

      Just use a really sharp[ (new) stanley knife or a hacksaw. Depending on the size of the inner rim, why not just squeeze the dartboard in & use the thickness of the tyre to keep it proud of the wall?

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