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 be gardens – I posted about this several years ago here and here. 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 bullet proof 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 refered 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 untill 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.
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…