This Instructable was created several years ago, before I had much more than an inexpensive digital camera.
If the weather warms up soon, I will update with much better images.
Thanks for your patience. :-)
Old tires in the garden. Okay, so they aren't for everyone. Hoity toity communities would choke on their own tongues if they saw one of these in your front yard, so keep in mind these are not the best choice if you live in an upscale area where people don't fart.
As I consider myself very lucky to live in the country, I have many of these 'planted' about our property. They are cute, colorful and best of all FREE. Why pay someone to do this, or even ship these things, when you can make one yourself? And yes, you CAN make it yourself, it is not hard if you choose a well worn tire
Tires. Tires. Tires. Plenty of them. Black rubber. Loads. In today's time you have to pay someone a few bucks to take them off your hands. Some companies have come up with the brilliant idea to make mulch pads out of them. Many garden hoses are made of recycled tires, what an excellent idea! If a tire can withstand travel and road conditions, surely it will be able to stand up in a garden!
Thanks to Arnell in Washington, who mentioned tires were 'planted' at every house in Idaho way back when. Worm Buds, Tire Planters, Tire Flowers, they have all sorts of names. How cool is that?
So you have a tire. Or two. Or a back yard full of them like we did. Ah, gotta love the internet. It's full of great ideas for these rounded rubber eyesores. Don't have any old tires? A local tire store will likely give them to you FREE of charge. My last stop at a small town tire store netted 9 great planters. The owner was so happy to send them down the road for free, he even loaded them for me! If you're laughing in ridicule, ask yourself what YOU are doing to help the environment.
One old tire, either on or off the rim and a few tools and you're all set to get busy.
Step 1: Gather Your Tools and Materials...
# Old tire, or well worn tire with a sweet spot
# Very sharp knife and possibly a knife sharpener
# Sidewalk chalk or light crayon
# Degreaser or cleaner. I use Simple Green
# A large rimmed cup or other template - used to trace circle shapes onto the tire
# Patience, determination and a good portion of elbow grease.
Please note: If you do not know where to find elbow grease, you are already in trouble.
I will absolutely, positively, definitely not be held responsible for any accident(s) you may encounter while following these instructions. We have provided this page merely as an assistance to those wishing to learn how to make tire planters for gardening purposes. Use your head, use safety procedures and most of all, use common sense, folks. Do not try to force the knife through the rubber, you could very well cut your own fingers off. Be careful!
Muster up some determination and let's get started!
Oh, wait, forgot to mention, it's much easier to do these on a hot summer day when the rubber is more forgiving.
Step 2: Pick Your Tire...
1.) First, find a good old tire which is well worn and has what is known as the "Sweet Spot" on the tire. In photo #6 (further below) right about where the shadow of the knife handle is and just underneath the shadow would be the area that should be easy to push in. You should be able to push this part of the tire in with your hand with ease. Keep in mind, the wider the tire, the harder it will be to flip. You can also drop the tires on the ground, then use the bottom of your foot (with shoes on, of course) to press in the area just before the tread; which is the pattern in the tire. You'll quickly get the hang of picking out the right tires if you practice this foot technique. If you don't have arthritis now, try a few 'too tough' tires and you'll soon have it! Be careful, choose your tires wisely. Pick old flexible tires!
The tire can have a rim or not, it depends on what you want as the finished product. Those with rims look so cute when painted, as you can paint the base and stem green, making it appear the flower is 'growing' out of the ground. The starburst will remain on the rim, and since it is cut with the scallops of the petals, it will have a unique flared look as if it were grass. Scroll down to see the same planters painted.
2.) If the tire is too dirty, you'll need to wipe it off so you will be able to see the chalk marks for cutting. You can draw the shapes freehand on the tire with chalk, but I prefer to use a large plastic cup to make neatly rounded flower petals. Try to draw the shapes close together to keep them orderly.
3.) After you have drawn the patterns, begin cutting the 'starburst' from the tire. It is best to use a sharp knife - not serrated, be VERY careful. Using an old Gerber fillet knife, I found that after but one tire, the knife was ready to give in. By the ninth tire, after numerous sharpening sessions, the knife was ready for the recycling bin.
4.) The easiest way to do this is to get a few inches started by using a sawing method, after that, pry the rubber of the petal up as you cut, pulling the rubber away from the cut as you go. You'll see how much easier it is to cut if you do this. It is not hard work. If you are having difficulty, your knife is not sharp enough or you are not pulling the rubber. Try a few different things to find the easiest way. After all, you'll need that elbow grease for turning the tire, not cutting it!
5.) Once you have cut the starburst from the tire, set it aside for another silly idea. Well, after all, they DO look like starburst, so why not paint them yellow and make them look like flowers? Like the sun?
Step 3: Grab a Root and Growl...
6.) Though you are only going to cut half of the circle you've drawn, I prefer to then cut between each petal down to the very edge of the steel belt (if present) but do not cut into the belt. Just cut a slit between each petal as shown. It helps they petals lay right and makes things easier when flipping the tire inside out.
Now here comes the hard part, bear with me, folks.
No matter how I show you or explain this to you, if you didn't start with a tire that had a sweet spot, you may as well wrestle a Grizzly bear instead, because you will exert the same amount of energy. Keep in mind, this project was completed by a slender woman, so if I can do it, you should be able to do it.
7.) Practice, practice, practice. Each tire gets easier once you figure out there truly is a trick to getting the turning started and completed. Using both hands, pull on a petal in each hand while using your knee to push in on the tire. It should easily give and fold the right direction. How you complete this is now your option. You can use your knee, you can sit on the darn thing and push with your foot, you can stand it up and use your foot...anything to get it moving.
8.) Very important! Once you get a two-petal flip going, move slowly along the tire raising another petal or two, pushing and pulling the tire as you go. Don't try to move all around the tire or try to use brute strength to just flip it inside out. Let the tire work with you by moving slowly along the flip you've already started.
And even though you may have the tire halfway flipped, that was the easy part!
9.) Once the tire has been turned inside out, sit down and catch your breath.
If it was that easy, get started on another.
If it was that hard, next time search for a more worn tire.
After the resting period is over with, now spray your tire down very well with a good degreaser or a heavy coating of Simple Green. A good scrubbing brush is pretty handy in this step. Rinse well and allow to dry.
You can now use your tire planter as is, or paint it. To paint, simply use a can of spray paint, or if you want to get fancy, use canned paint. If you are using the tire as a planter, you won't need to paint the inside of the planter, as this is where soil will be, so paint the petals and just below them.
With regard to using these tires for food, there is way too much of this discussion on the internet to start it here. I'm not going to get into whether you should or should not plant food items in these tires. That is something you will have to research and decide for yourself.