Perhaps you have some old tires lying around waiting for the day when you find the time to dispose of them at the local dump or recycling center. Water that collects inside the tires also becomes prime breeding grounds for that irksome cloud of hungry mosquitos that always seems to appear the minute you decide to enjoy some time in your yard or garden. Not to mention that trying to get that water out of the tire well is often an exercise in futility despite your best efforts at tire flipping, throwing and bouncing (Maybe they should make this an Olympic sport).
Unless you have a pickup truck or trailer, attempting to transport the tires may necessitate a secondary trip to the local auto detailer shop to get rid of the dirt, grime and muck that will likely find its way to your car’s seats or the carpet of its trunk. Not to mention any hitchhikers that you may pick up in the process, maybe a Black Widow spider or a lizard or two. To add insult to injury, you’ll probably have to spend $2 – $5 apiece to dispose of these tires. But is there another solution?
The toughness and resiliency that give you thousands of miles of riding comfort in your car can be used to build a lasting living wall with a modicum of effort. Basically, you lay down a layer of tires side by side, fill them with your favorite potting soil mixture, then repeat the process for the next layer until you reach the height you want. Each layer will need to be offset slightly to expose the soil, and you will need to fill the area behind the tires to support each new layer that is added. If you put your tire wall on a slope, most of the soil fill will be already be in place. Fill the exposed areas of soil with flowers, moss, succulents, vines or any other plant that doesn’t grow so large as to make its removal from the tire next to impossible. If basic tire black is not your favorite color, you can paint the tires to your desired color, pattern or style. Who knows, you may just be the founder of a new school of art, a Michelangelo of the Michelin, or a Goodyear Gauguin.
Olivewood Gardens was created to give the residents of San Diego County the benefits of an education in gardening, cooking and environmental science with a special emphasis on a “hands-on” approach featuring both lessons in the classroom as well as out in the garden.
At left, this picture taken during Olivewood Garden’s construction shows you how the soil is pushed up to meet each tier of tires to support the tire wall structure.
The paint used was oil-based exterior paint. Olivewood avoids the planting of edibles in the tire wall as a precaution against any possible contamination by the tire itself or any other substance (e.g. brake pad dust) the tire may have accumulated. Also, be sure to avoid using tires that have enough wear to expose the embedded steel belts present in most tires today. For tires that have reached this state of deterioration, usually some of the wires will have worn completely through resulting in sharp edges sticking out that can easily cause skin cuts and pricks.
I don’t know if it was by intention, but the bright, colorful wall of tires became something of a focal point at the gardening facility, and the subject of many of the pictures taken by visitors. If you would like to add a colorful tire wall to your own garden, but don’t have any old tires lying around, take a look at the “free” category on Craigslist, or place your own ad in the “wanted” category. It shouldn’t take long to gather all the tires you will need. You could use the ad to get some free paint, too, although it may be tough to find just the right colors you want.