HOW TO RECYCLE OLD TIRES INTO GARDEN PLANTERS by Wuv’n Acres Gourden

…Not a project for lazy people

February 26, 2005

This is the newest part of our site. Please be patient
while we construct the finished product.

Old tires in the garden. Okay, so they aren’t for everyone. Hoity toity communities would choke on their own tongues if they saw one of these in your front yard, so keep in mind these are not the best choice if you live in an upscale area where people don’t fart.

As I consider myself very lucky to live in the country, I have many of these ‘planted’ about our property. They are cute, colorful and best of all FREE.

Tires. Tires. Tires. Plenty of them. Black rubber. Loads. In today’s time you have to pay someone a few bucks to take them off your hands. Some companies have come up with the brilliant idea to make mulch pads out of them. Many garden hoses are made of recycled tires, what an excellent idea! If a tire can withstand travel and road conditions, surely it will be able to stand up in a garden!

So you have a tire. Or two. Or a back yard full of them like we did. Ah, gotta love the internet. It’s full of great ideas for these rounded rubber eyesores. Don’t have any old tires? A local tire store will likely give them to you FREE of charge. My last stop at a small town tire store netted 9 great planters. The owner was so happy to send them down the road for free, he even loaded them for me!

One old tire, either on or off the rim and a few tools and you’re all set to get busy.

Items required:

Old tire, or well worn tire with a sweet spot
Very sharp knife and possibly a knife sharpener
Sidewalk chalk or light crayon
Degreaser or cleaner. I use Simple Green
A large rimmed cup – used to trace circle shapes onto the tire
Patience, determination and a good portion of elbow grease.

Please note: If you do not know where to find elbow grease, you’re in trouble already!

DISCLAIMER
Wuv’n Acres will absolutely, positively, definitely not be held responsible for any accident(s) you may encounter while following these instructions. We have provided this page merely as an assistance to those wishing to learn how to make tire planters for gardening purposes. Use your head, use safety procedures and most of all, use common sense, folks.

Muster up some determination and let’s get started!
Oh, wait, forgot to mention, it’s much easier to do these on a hot summer day when the rubber is more forgiving.

1.)First, find a good old tire which is well worn and has what is known as the “Sweet Spot” on the tire. In photo #6, right about where the shadow of the knife handle is and just underneath the shadow would be the area that should be easy to push in. You should be able to push this part of the tire in with your hand with ease. Keep in mind, the wider the tire, the harder it will be to flip.

The tire can have a rim or not, it depends on what you want as the finished product. Those with rims look so cute when painted, as you can paint the base and stem green, making it appear the flower is ‘growing’ out of the ground. The starburst will remain on the rim, and since it is cut with the scallops of the petals, it will have a unique flared look as if it were grass. Scroll down to see the same planters painted.

2.)If the tire is too dirty, you’ll need to wipe it off so you will be able to see the chalk marks for cutting. You can draw the shapes freehand on the tire with chalk, but I prefer to use a large plastic cup to make neatly rounded flower petals. Try to draw the shapes close together to keep them orderly.

3.)After you have drawn the patterns, begin cutting the ‘starburst’ from the tire. It is best to use a sharp knife – not serrated, be VERY careful.

4.)The easiest way to do this is to get a few inches started by using a sawing method, after that, pry the rubber of the petal up as you cut, pulling the rubber away from the cut as you go. You’ll see how much easier it is to cut if you do this. It is not hard work. If you are having difficulty, your knife is not sharp enough or you are not pulling the rubber. Try a few different things to find the easiest way. After all, you’ll need that elbow grease for turning the tire, not cutting it!

5.)Once you have cut the starburst from the tire,
set it aside for another silly idea. Well, after all, they DO look like starburst, so why not paint them yellow and make them look like flowers? Like the sun?

6.)Though you are only going to cut half of the circle you’ve drawn, I prefer to then cut between each petal down to the very edge of the steel belt (if present) but do not cut into the belt. Just cut a slit between each petal as shown. It helps they petals lay right and makes things easier when flipping the tire inside out.

Now here comes the hard part, bear with me, folks.

No matter how I show you or explain this to you, if you didn’t start with a tire that had a sweet spot, you may as well wrestle a Grizzly bear instead, because you will exert the same amount of energy. Keep in mind, this project was completed by a slender 40 year old woman, so if I can do it, you should be able to do it.

7.)Practice, practice, practice. Each tire gets easier once you figure out there truly is a trick to getting the turning started and completed. Using both hands, pull on a petal in each hand while using your knee to push in on the tire. It should easily give and fold the right direction. How you complete this is now your option. You can use your knee, you can sit on the darn thing and push with your foot, you can stand it up and use your foot…anything to get it moving.

8.)Very important! Once you get a two-petal flip going, move slowly along the tire raising another petal or two, pushing and pulling the tire as you go. Don’t try to move all around the tire or try to use brute strength to just flip it inside out. Let the tire work with you by moving slowly along the flip you’ve already started.

And even though you may have the tire halfway flipped, that was the easy part!

9.)Once the tire has been turned inside out, sit down and catch your breath.
If it was that easy, get started on another.
If it was that hard, next time search for a more worn tire.

After the resting period is over with, now spray your tire down very well with a good degreaser or a heavy coating of Simple Green. A good scrubbie brush is pretty handy in this step. Rinse well and allow to dry.

You can now use your tire planter as is, or paint it. To paint, simply use a can of spray paint, or if you want to get fancy, use canned paint. If you are using the tire as a planter, you won’t need to paint the inside of the planter, as this is where soil will be, so paint the petals and just below them.

The tire on the left has the rim intact while the others do not. I almost prefer those with the rims, as they sit up off the ground. The only drawback is you have to add more soil to fill the entire planter, or block the holes in the rim, thus filling only the bloom section of the tire.

If you are ever lucky enough to visit Curaçao, be sure to see the tropical bird planters typically found as local souvenirs!

Please feel free to visit any of these links for additional or optional tire planter ideas:

A home built with tires! Blue Rock Station
Another home built with tires
Classic Southern Tire Planters
Did you know?
Making Tire Planters by Discovery Channel
Making Tire Sandals
Motorcycle Tire Swing
Nifty Tire Planter Style
Nifty Cartoon showing HOW TO
Re-tiring in the Garden (scroll down page) Bellewood Gardens
Rubber Gardens A Pennsylvania Project
Rubber Road Kill by Hans Molders
Tire Crafting Video for Sale by Paul & Joan Farber
Tire Gardens by Kurt Saxon
Tire Planter How To with Pictures by Terry Conner
Tire Rooftop Shingles…must see!
Tire Tunnel for Kids
Tropical Bird Planters from Tires
(more) Tropical Bird Planters
(Even more) Tropical Bird Planters
(And even more) Tropical Bird Planters
Tropical Bird Planters Close the Loop.LLC
Uses for Old Tires by Thrifty Fun
Using a Jigsaw on Tires by Paul Farber
Virtually Gardening

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