Re-using tyres to make flower pots in your garden seems like an excellent use for a resource that can be difficult to recycle. If you’d like to discover how to make a tyre flower pot, how to cut a tyre, what soil to use, or are wondering if they’re safe to use as planters, then read on.
Types of tyres to use
- You can make smaller planting areas with old bicycle tyres and inner tubes, scooter and toy car tyres. They can be piled on top of each other to make a deep planter or used to hold single plants. Inner tubes can be cut and plaited to make effective holders for tyre plant pots. The finished planter can also be painted.
- Moped, motorbike and car tyres can also be used but these are much thicker.
- If you’re after a super-sized planter, tractor tyres are much sought after and upcycling them is appealing. However, ensure you have lined the inside well before adding your soil. A tractor tyre makes a great base for a tiered tyre planter, read more on this below.
How to cut a tyre
Some of the designs suggested below involve cutting a tyre. A tyre’s thick dense rubber is lined with steel, making it difficult to cut. Tyres can be dangerous to cut too so make sure you wear protective eyewear and gloves and also ensure that your tools are sharp.
First, use a sharp tool to make an indent and then use a power saw to cut the shape you need. This video carefully takes you through the process of cutting the edge of a tyre, using a drill, and a knife. Once you have mastered this, you can try more complex shapes.
How to fill a tyre
Some gardeners are happy to fill a tyre with soil and then add a plant. This is fine if the base is on concrete on a patio or a balcony but if you’re planning to place your tyre in direct contact with grass, then I advise you to place a liner on the area you want to use. This is because toxic chemicals that can leach from the tyre over time. See more in the FAQs below.
- Use a sheet of polythene, old plastic compost bags, several cardboard layers cut to size or layers of wood chip as a base for your tyre.
- Then carefully place your tyres over the top and fill them with small stones first, to improve drainage.
- Adding a layer of twigs will help to fill up the space and provide air holes.
- Use homemade compost or garden soil to fill the tyre up.
Be careful! Due to the toxic substances which are in tyres, don’t use them for growing food without a layer between the rubber and the growing medium.
There are also some concerns about using tyres where children play because they tend to absorb more of these substances just because their body weight is smaller. This is especially true if they are playing with them.
What can I plant in a tyre?
Provided you line your tyres, your flowers should grow well in there. Trailing plants like petunias are wonderful and compact carnations with sweetly scented flowers will add a burst of colour.
I wouldn’t advise planting trees or shrubs because they won’t be able to root deeply in a tyre and may become unstable. If you like, you can use the tyre as a stabiliser for a plant pot you already have and contain the actual pot your plant is growing in within the tyre.
Tyre planter design ideas
The round shape of tyres can really get your creative juices flowing, here are some creative planter ideas for old tyres:
- Fence tyre planters: Hang a painted tyre along a fence and fill it with busy Lizzies or colourful annuals, which continue to produce blooms all summer long.
- Patio tyre flower pot: Tyres can be painted the same colour or you can choose a different colour for each one. A larger tyre can stabilise a plant pot and offer some protection from pets. Just decorate the tyre and then place the plant pot directly into it.
- Seasonal tyre wreath: There are some great ideas for using smaller tyres as seasonal wreaths. You can hang them on doors or from tree branches, changing the plants to suit the season. In winter grow clematis, and add some spring bulbs to bloom from February to April. Add some flowering summer annuals after these die off and the wreath will be ready to re-plant for the festive season.
- Vertical tyre planter: If space is tight, stack them up! Place your tyres on top of each other, they are very stable providing they are filled with stones and soil (I’ve seen tyre goalposts in some neighbourhoods!).
- Tiered tyre planter: Use different sizes and shapes and place the largest in contact with the ground. Line the tyre then fill it with soil and add the second and third, making them steady by using stones and soil to make a vertical structure. If you’re planning to paint them, it’s best to do this before assembly. Plant climbers like sweet peas or clematis in the base tyre, which will grow vertically and place smaller plants in the second or third layer. Bulbs and geraniums don’t mind the soil not being too rich so you can plan your blooms to flower at different times.
- Hanging tyre planter: Tyres can be cut into interesting shapes and sections and assembled as hanging planters for balconies and outside sunny urban windowsills. Use chains to secure pieces together which can be purchased by the metre in DIY stores. Better still, use the inner tube from a bicycle for this.
- Visual artist Blake McFarland uses old tyres as raw material, cutting them into astonishing animals and scary monsters. If you need some ideas, visit his website: Bored Panda.
- See some fantastic design ideas here: 50 Impressive DIY Tire Planters Ideas for Your Garden To Amaze Everyone | garden ideas – YouTube
Check for slugs and snails before you fill up your tyre
The inside of a tyre is an ideal hiding place for these creatures and they will munch all your pretty flowers so remove these first, particularly if the tyres have been sitting outdoors for some time.
Look out for over-wintering moths and butterflies
I have often found peacock butterflies enjoying the cosy interior of a tyre over the winter. Give your tyre a good shake before you use it!
Are tyres dangerous?
Tyres are manufactured to carry substantial weight and they’re extremely tough. Tyres contain aluminium, cadmium, chromium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, and sulphur, as well as a high level of zinc.
It is possible for some of these chemicals to leach out onto your grass and flowerbeds so I advise using a liner inside the tyre if you’re planting food and salads and also protecting your grass and particularly your pond area as tyres can harm aquatic environments. Source
Should I keep tyres away from ponds?
Yes. Tests have shown that tyre contaminants are especially dangerous for pond and wild freshwater areas and that chemical leakage has killed entire aquatic communities including fish, algae, snails and plants.
Research has found that acidic soils tend to retain zinc, which exists in high amounts in rubber and if the rubber was originally exposed to heavy metals, these can leach out into your planting soil.