Six Uncommon Uses For Old Tires Around Your Home and or Retreat

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, drivers in the United States generate nearly 300 million used tires each year. I think you would agree letting such a mountain of a resource go to waste would be a bad thing and since I love using “free stuff” around the retreat, I’ve been brainstorming ideas on how I can put them to use around my place.

Here are a few of the ideas I’ve come up with…

1. Old tires work great for building cheap raised bed gardens – Aside from my posts on using old tires in the garden, Charles Sanders has an excellent post over at Backwoods Home Magazine and here is another one by Kurt Saxon.

2. Old tires work great for building a bulletproof wall – all you have to do is fill each tire with earth as you stack them into a wall. This type of wall will stop anything that you’re likely to face, and it costs very little of nothing if you have a source of free tires and earth.

Start by filling the tires with dirt and compacting with a sledgehammer. This process is referred to as “pounding the tires”  a 15-in. tire will take nearly 300 lbs of earth and a lot of work and sweat to fill. The wall is built using staggered courses, just like a block wall to make all hold together without falling over without having to use mortar or reinforcing steel.

For a wealth of info about building with tires, I suggest you get a copy of Earthship Volume 1, How to Build Your Own. I would like to have my trailer surrounded with this type of wall, leaving space for the door and windows of course.

3. Build a “goat gym” if you keep goats you know how funny and playful they are – bury a large truck tire perpendicular and half way into the dirt in your goat lot and watch them jump on, crawl through, headbutt and rub themselves in all kinds of strange and funny ways.

4. Old tires are also great for keeping livestock feed buckets upright. I have a billy-goat that loves to push and paw his feed bucket over, dumping his feed on the ground wasting a large part of it. My solution was to use a 13-inch car tire that fits his bucket snuggly and place his bucket in the center opening of the tire. Problem solved.

5. You can build a great composter using old tires. Start by using a jig saw or sharp knife to cut out both side-walls around the tread of four to six tires that are the same size. Find a level spot put the first tire down on the ground and cover the bottom with 4 to six inches of sawdust or hay and star adding your composting material and cover with a layer of sawdust, hay or both.

When the first tire is full put anther one on top and repeat until all the tires are full. Now let it stand for at least two months, now remove the top tire and lay it beside the stack, shovel what was in that tire off the top and into the tire that is now on the ground, add the next tire and repeat.

After you have finished turning your compost let it stand for one year or more before adding it to your garden.

6. Fill the tires with dirt or sand and stack two layers thick for a great bullet backstop for a home shooting range. See number two above for more details.

I’m sure you have other ideas for using old tires around the retreat – please feel free to share those with use in the comments below…

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. They’re also handy for holding logs upright while splitting.

    • j.r. guerra in s. tx. says:

      Yup, the smaller garden tractor tire is particularly great for this, lighter and less bulky for those rounds less than 12″ in diameter.

      We chained three tires together and with another chain lead, use it for a road drag for overgrown rural roads, towed behind the pick-up. A steel pipe tying two together help keep the unit from flipping over and becoming a nuisance.

      There are a few links on using a tire and a pane of glazing to make a solar cooker set up, I thought that interesting. The glazing has to cover the entire opening when lain out its side, or heat will escape.

      Thank you for all of the great ideas people.

    • Jay in Kansas says:

      Beat me to it! That’s the way I split my wood at our place!

  2. Scatter tires in random places along access routes to your home as for tripping stealthy interlopers.

  3. Good suggestions.

  4. I used the tires as a bullet backstop on my range. I built them in two layers, 4 high ( I have a slope I shoot down, so not a lot of height needed). They stop 8mm, .303, 7.62x54R, and 12g slug with no issues. I’ve never had anything get through to the second layer the didn’t hit right between the tire edges, and nothing has penetrated through the backstop.

    My wife has painted quite a few and uses them as planters around the sheds. I’ve set them out to run through (aka football practice), but now my kids have a video of just how clumsy I am… oh well. I’ve used 2 filled with concrete to anchor the clothes line, and with effort I can move it if needed. Filled with an old blanket they make good outside dog/cat beds. Goat toys (yep, done that too), anchoring feed/water buckets, lawn mower barriers to protect young fruit trees I planted. But the best use I found is the old tire swing – keeps the younger kids going to hours!

    • My dad has had a similar set up for about 14 years now for a bullet backstop. We’ve never had one pass through yet.

  5. plainsroamer says:

    put a board in the bottom,fill with cement, put a steel ring in the top for lifting. use for weight in your pick up for traction. will not slide around or scratch the box. easy to load and unload with a hoist

  6. When my sons were much younger they rounded up all of the used tires laying on their sides and made a rectangle with them. Then they took a sheet of plastic and spread out in the middle, up the sides and over the top. Fill with water and enjoy!

    I painted 4 tires last year and filled with rabbit and goat manure. My roses more than doubled in size and bloomed until after Thanksgiving. 🙂
    We also have tires filled with rocks for the goats to jump on.

  7. Back when I lived in the city I filled old tires with cement and stuck a piece of steel pipe in the center while it dried. Used to use one with a tetherball set up for the kids and I had a collapsible clothesline we could use with it as well. Just slid the upright for either down into the pipe in the tire. There’s all kinds of uses for that setup. Made one for my parents as well for their clothesline. Came in handy more than once. The family had a small place just outside the city for picnic’s, BBQ’s and gatherings, which sounds a lot grander than it really was ( just a piece of dirt really, no water, no electricity but all the grassburs we could pick out of our socks) but we used the cement filled tires for setting up volley ball or badminton nets, cool down tents, stringing lights for nighttime BBQ’s, empty tires were used for erosion control in the arroyo out back. Made a platform by laying tires out, filling them with earth and then decking over it all with plywood. Crude but effective redneck engineering…lol. I’ve also used small tires for boat fenders, small tires cut in half as deadman tent stakes at the beach, even got inside a tractor tire and rode it rolling down a sand dune once. That was a wild ride….lol.

    They make good long lasting shoe soles as well. I’ve had sandals made with them and the leather wore out before the tire soles did and I just recycled them into another pair of sandals. If you can find a place to shred them for you old tires make good paving materials for a driveway or a path.

  8. Amazing what we can do with old tires better than filling the landfills! Thanks for great ideas.

  9. I would like to build a fence around my property for privacy as well as security. Does anyone know if there are any ordinances to prevent the use of tires?

    • Relative to your city or county, of course. Check with them I would say. However, If you reside in some liberal-laden area of the country just tell them it’s art and somehow illustrative of your disdain for the Holy Bible, God or the constitution. You’ll be good to hook.

  10. ‘the deliberate agrarian’ uses them. cuts off walls and inverts them.
    then uses walls by piling them on top of each other to make another raised bed.
    ‘rural revolution’ by patrice lewis–they use huge tires they get hauled in free by dealers glad to be rid of them.

  11. Word of caution says:

    Has anyone ever use them for potatoe beds? I would think you can stack the dirt high and it would be nice and warm for huge potatoes. May have to cut some of the edge back a bit.

  12. Yes on he potato beds, fill with seed potatoes and dirt let grow until they start to bud then cover with another tire and just keep going.
    Every time the flower and you add a tire and fill with dirt they make more potatoes. Backwoods home magazine had a couple of articles on this, I believe the one auther claimed to get 50lbs of potatoes with a chest high stake of tires.
    Also you can start these a little later in the season, the black tires hold in the heat well into the fall.

  13. Let’s not forget,tie a rope in a tree attach tire for swing for kids. After playing on it for awhile they get TIRED!!!

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