How to Repurpose Old Car Tires into Planters

How to Repurpose Old Car Tires into Planters

Old car tires that are no longer usable for vehicles can be given new life by repurposing them into planters. Tire planters are inexpensive, eco-friendly, and make a cool decorative statement in any yard or garden. Repurposing tires prevents them from ending up in landfills while also providing a unique container to grow plants.

Gather the Necessary Materials

The first step is to gather the proper materials needed to transform old tires into planters:

  • Old car, truck, or tractor tires
  • Sharp utility knife or box cutter
  • Safety gloves and eye protection
  • Sandpaper
  • Spray paint (optional)
  • Soil and drainage material
  • Plants, flowers, herbs to pot

Tires should be thoroughly inspected for major damage before using. Utility knives will be used to cut slits in the tires so be sure to use proper hand protection. Sandpaper helps smooth out the inner surfaces. Spray paint can customize the look but is optional.

Cutting Slits and Opening the Tire

The main modification needed is to cut openings so the tire walls can flex outward.

  • Using a sharp utility knife, cut 2-3 large vertical slits spaced out evenly around each tire. The slits should start about 2 inches from the top and run 10-12 inches down the side.
  • Safety tip: Be extremely careful when using sharp knives, wear thick gloves and eye protection.
  • Once slits are cut, the tire sidewalls can be pried open to create the planting space inside.

Opening wider tires like tractor tires takes more effort. Use tire irons or large screwdrivers to fully flex the sidewalls outwards.

Sanding the Interior Surface

The inner rubber of the tire needs to be roughened up to allow soil and roots to cling.

  • Use medium grit sandpaper and thoroughly sand the entire interior surface of the tire.
  • Try to expose more of the inner fiber mesh material which provides grip.
  • Sanding removes any residual oils or tire coatings.
  • Tip: Orbital sanders make quicker work especially on large tractor tires.

Customizing the Look (Optional)

Tire planters can be painted for added style:

  • Lightly sand the outer tire surface to help paint adhere better.
  • Spray paint the exterior however desired using color combinations or patterns.
  • For a rustic look, coat with brown or black spray paint.
  • Let tire completely dry before planting.

Stencils, sponging, or rollers can add unique designs like faux wood grain or brick.

Preparing for Planting

Some preparations help make the tires ready for growing plants:

  • Install drainage material in the bottom such as gravel, pebbles, stones, etc. This allows excess water to drain out.
  • Optionally add a landscape fabric barrier over the drainage layer to block soil from trickling through.
  • Fill tire with a quality potting mix almost to the top. Don’t pack too tightly.
  • Consider elevating wooden planters off the ground with bricks or blocks.

The tires are now ready for seeds, plant starts, or arrangements!

Selecting the Right Plants

Certain types of plants thrive better in the conditions of a tire planter:

  • Small herbs like thyme, oregano, basil, and chives grow well without much root space.
  • Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, lettuce, swiss chard.
  • Flowers and succulents are ideal for their shallow root systems.
  • Avoid large vegetables or plants with extensive roots.
  • Tip: Use vertical space by pairing tall narrow plants surrounded by lower ones.

Tires can grow plants year-round or just seasonally depending on climate. Rotate plantings each year.

Caring for Tire Planters

A few special tips will keep plants in tire planters happy and healthy:

  • Check soil moisture frequently, tires dry out quicker than garden beds.
  • Water thoroughly until it drains from the bottom.
  • Add mulch on top of the soil to retain moisture.
  • Fertilize regularly, twice a month is ideal.
  • Inspect for signs of pests and disease. Act quickly if issues occur.
  • Repaint tires periodically as needed to maintain nice appearance.

Reusing old tires creatively produces fun and unique planters for the garden! With a bit of work, these recycled containers bring new life to old materials headed for the landfill. The end result is beautiful, functional planters perfect for greening up small spaces.