Recycled Backyard: Tire Gardens

Got some old tires on hand? Building a tire garden is easy!

Jill Staake

Got some old tires on hand? Building a tire garden is easy!

Photo by Jill Staake

At the butterfly garden where I work, we use tire planters to grow host and nectar plants for our local butterflies.

You can even paint the tires using appropriate outdoor paints (ask at your local home improvement store). This is a great project for kids, too. A friend of mine helped her children’s school decorate and install inexpensive tire planters as a way to spruce up the grounds and get the kids interested in gardening.

For taller tire garden stacks, fill the bottom with stones or recycled materials to take up space. via Serendipitous Scavenger

Coordinate flower colors with tire colors for a vibrant, eye-catching display. via Junk Drawer Decor

No room on the ground? Smaller tires from trailers or wheelbarrows are great for hanging from trees or sturdily-mounted hooks. Paint them or leave them plant – whatever suits your own style.

Tire Garden

Choose trailing plants for hanging tire gardens for a dramatic look.

Have you created a tire garden? Do you have tips for our readers? Tell us in the comments below.

  1. Doris says

    I’m 64 years old and we had tire planters over 40 years ago. I never thought I’d see them back in style! I like the colored, wider tire planters. They would be nice used as a little vegetable gardens for tomatoes and peppers. You could place them inside a bed made of 2×8’s, fill in between tires with mulch or even nice stones. I’d paint the exposed area a fun color.

    • Doris says

      OOPS. Never mind the veggies. Just finished reading more of the article and that would be a no-no. OK, back to planting flowers but I do like the bright colors.

  2. Mary Norris says

    A word of caution on using the original tires stacked around and sitting on the ground….we did this a few years ago and the snakes loved them! I vowed I would NOT do that again. Now painting and stacking may be a different angle to the use of them, but one should always be careful where the finished product is sitting .

  3. says

    I had tried tire gardening several years ago. Now I know that I did not water them enough. Like you I was trying potatoes but did not stack them. I did get several potatoes ( just used pieces of a sprouted potato in my sack of potatoes. I didn’t know.) knew we always planted potatoes in hills growing up but didn’t know to do it in the tires. I had planned on experimenting with the cardboard box container gardening you published not too long ago. Since I have four tires already here and one large truck tire this sounds like the idea way to go since I now know to water more frequently. I also have sturdy cardboard boxes on hand so I may try that too. I’m retired now and not as strong as I use to be so will have to just try to do what I can after I get some good dirt in. Interesting and informing articles on both ideas of containing gardening by the way.

    • grandjem says

      You do not need to fill all the tires. I would nail a board onto the bottom, or sit on a slab of cement,to keep out critters. Get a container with the wider rim, drop it into the top tire. Then you can have tomato plants or zucchini, etc growing in them, and draping over the sides; like they grow in a mound. As for flowers, I once had pansies in 1 level of tires. They overwintered in ice, never lost their blooms, nor color. Totally beautiful, and refreshed in spring.

  4. linda carson says

    I wanted a circle theme in my backyard so i put 27 tires along my house to stop the water from going under it and I used them all as planters out front of my home i use tires for a retaining wall and stagered them filling them all with dirt and planting flowers in them i used roofing paint for the paint on them it covers all the imperfections in them and its a pretty silver white paint in my field i have tires around my trees and bushes painted the same color and its easy maintnence for a old widow woman maybe ill think about the wild colors but ive kinda got a yellow blue theme going on in my one acre yard

  5. says

    My husband says we cannot use tires in the garden because he is worried about toxins from the tires getting into our food. Do you happen have information on this? We have a number of old tires but I’m now afraid to use them for anything except flowers.

  6. Leif Persson says

    I’ve heard that one should not cultivate anything you plan to eat in old tires because of all the toxins found in the rubber. Are you aware of any studies on this?

  7. Franky says

    Love the DIY look of these tire gardens! Want to use them for sure, how about those toxins though for herbs????

  8. Helena says

    Just a quick question about the 3rd photo (with the orange/blue/purple tires): if you stack them like that, how do you keep the soil from falling out of the 2nd and 3rd layer? Does it have some sort of bottom placed in it? I would SO love to do that, it looks brilliant! :)

    • Lori says

      I have been obsessing over this too! I have my tires painted -but how to keep soil contained if tires are stacked?
      Screening? Chicken wire??? Help!

      • Betty says

        Just a thought but I would cut out rounds of plywood and sit each tire on the wood, don’t forget to drill a few holes for water drainage.

  9. says

    We were planning on growing strawberries in old tires . Now I read about the toxins from the old tires , I wonder if they would be edible . Could someone let me know ?

  10. Maureen says

    OMG, my dear Dad used old tires as planters in the garden more than 50 years ago. I was only 10 then, but remember that this was quite a trend/fad back then, in Pennsylvania at least. Thanks for the walk down Memory Lane…

  11. Sonya says

    Yes, I love the idea, but thought about snakes, how to keep the dirt from coming out, what about the toxins, and all of the above. The painted ones are fabulous… that is what attracted me to the idea! But the negatives bother me too.

  12. Cookiejug says

    I can’t find anything as to proof that there is a danger of toxins. I’ve been using old tractor tires (huge tires) for over 20 years to grow my horseradish and some onions. We’ve never had a toxin problem. I also use tires around my tomato plants as we live in a cool area and the tires absorb the heat of day to keep the plants warmer at night. We’ve been doing this well over 40 years and never had a toxin problem. Just thought you’d like to hear from an old-timer.

  13. Liana ireland says

    Help help help. We have tried painting a tyre in gloss paint – but over a week later it has not dried it is all tacky. Have a job to do with the tyres painted – can someone be more specific with what paint you actually used & how long it took to dry PLEASE.

    Many thanks

    • Liz says

      I am planning on painting some tires as well. My husband is a professional painting contractor and I asked him what kind of paint to get and he said any latex would probably work. Maybe you did you not use a latex paint?

  14. sidonia schumann says

    Prepare the tires; pressure wash or scrub w strong plain dish soap; dry in the sun for a day or two. Lightly spray the parts to be painted with auto primer from a car supply store; after that most paints will bond very well.

  15. Jan says

    I gathered up 6 tires of different dimensions and have scrubbed them down with a natural degreasing solvent and purchased 6 cans of Rustoleum Painter’s Touch 2x Satin based spray paint which will adhere to plastic in 6 different bright colors for layer/stacking as pictured in the 3rd photo. I realize landscapting fabric or hefty thick trash bag should be put down under the bottom layer to keep the weeds down, then fill with dirt…..My question is this….in scatter stacking the 2d and third row, what should I put under the tires to hold the dirt in……the same….fabric or plastic and the walls of the tires will be over the walls of the tires underneath for stability and support or what? Im a bit lost and want to get moving on this SPRING project now that it is almost Fall! LOL Thanks for any assistance.

    • Richard Cave says

      I use tyres in my garden I have them all over me garden ,I have turned some inside out and made flower beds and I have the all round the back garden ,growing me veg in them they are great .When the sun hits them they warm up which then warms the soil ,it actes like a green house ,the plants and veg love it .I wouldn’t do with out and I want more I get told by many on how good the garden looks ,yes even with all me tyres ,I creat garden designes with recycle materials that is already in your garden thats what I do to bring your garden to life try it and I use lots of tyres too.I spray my Tyres with road paint they look wicked

  16. Angela says

    So I wanted to use tires for a veggie gardens seams to be mixed information around about toxons …. I was told by a friend as long as it was not a root veggie so beans, tomatoes, strawberries are ok….
    But there is lots of info about growing potatoes in tires……
    I am just not sure

  17. Peter says

    Old tyres used in the garden with a bit of imagination can go from an eyesore to a thing of beauty.

    Take a tractor tyre; lay it flat on the ground. Using a sharp knife (be careful) remove the upper side surface of the tyre.

    Next using a hole saw in your drill cut several 40 mm holes (that’s about a inch and a half) into the tyre thread edge, which is now (as the tyre is laid on the ground) the outer edge, stagger these holes around the tyre.

    Next paint the tyre with white paint. When dry place it in a garden site of your choosing. Fill it with river soil and a bit of straw. Now you can plant some nice flowers in the top of the tyre. In each hole you have made in the sides of the tyre push a new strawberry plant.

    When the flowers bloom and the strawberries grow you will have green leaves and the red strawberries contrasting against the white background of the tyre and the colours will be further enhanced by the flowers up top.



  18. kaykay says

    I have a lot of old tires. Can’t cut them cause they have wire sides in them. I have grown tomatoes & peppers for years in them & all kind of flowers. they can be used to keep hillsides from falling further, Sure helps with weeding too. I love to paint, so I’ll try it. thanks.

  19. karen says

    Your great comments inspired me to give tire gardening a try. I spent the morning drilling holes and putting in cardboard in the bottom plus adding soil. I have placed some hostas and double bloom roses so far and I am pretty happy with the results. The comments about the snakes has made me a little nervous…yikes! Any additional insight to prevent them from taking up residence? Thanks, Karen


    ”’YOU”’ CAN CUT OLD TIRES. I called goodyear tire. JUST cut sidewall out of tire.
    RUBBER then cut with skill saw in circle cut.
    Like hot knife in butter. 71-yrs building pond
    with old tractor tires.

  21. says

    is to use it to make a tire swing for your kids or for decoration under a
    tree. Wider tires are perceived to be a harsher driving experience.
    It’s also a wise decision to never wait until it is too late to buy new tires.


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  2. […] Recycled Backyard: Tire Gardens – Birds and Blooms – … we use tire planters to grow host and nectar … I wanted a circle theme in my backyard so i put 27 tires along my house to stop the water from going under it and I used them all as planters out front of my home … I also use tires around my tomato plants as we live in a cool area and … […]

  3. […] Recycled Backyard: Tire Gardens – Birds and Blooms – … we use tire planters to grow host and … stagered them filling them all with dirt and planting flowers in them i used roofing paint for the paint on them it covers all the imperfections in them and its a pretty silver … I also use tires around my tomato plants as we live in a … […]

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