How to Make A Blooming Tire Planter

I have a good friend who recently opened a gardening shop in the hip neighborhood of Williamsburg in Brooklyn called Rose Red & Lavender.

Talk about old-fashioned: Kimberly grew up in a family that grew or raised everything they ate. And they had a gorgeous, sweet-smelling Lavender farm to boot.

Through her store, she tries to give urbanites a chance to revel in nature—and her own two young children a feel for how their grandparents lived.

To that end, she taught a class on making a tire planter—something she remembers seeing all over front yards in the 70s. Here’s how:

1. Find a good tire that is nice and worn, bald ones are the best. Press on the side walls and see if there is give.

Draw your pattern. I used a watering can; you can use a coffee can or just draw zigzags. Chalk makes a perfect marker. Just be sure to have them at the end of the tread and where the opening of the tire is. You CANNOT cut into the tread or the round opening; there is steel cable there and it’s impossible to cut. I tried and almost gave up on the whole project.

3. Cut out your pattern. (Remember, you CANNOT cut the opening or the tread.) This is the hard part, and I tried many cutting tools. A lot of people suggested sharp knives, not serrated. I sharpened the bejuses out of my knife and was scared I would hurt myself. Eventually I used my Japanese florist shears, pink ones at that. I cut the entire tire with a pair and they are still sharp! I can’t say enough good things about them; they cut through the tire like it was a piece of paper.

4. Turning inside out: I have heard that this is the hard part, but it wasn’t so bad. I found a place where the tire looked more worn than the rest and pressed in the middle of the tread. When I created a dimple, I kept working my way around it until it was inside out. I used my feet and gloved hands to make the dimple. (I had on work clogs so maybe that helped.) I did this on the street; a lot of people stopped to look; no one helped.

5. The finished product! Some people paint their tires. I think that it just adds more work and, well, an old tire will always look like an old tire. I think the black with the texture of the ridges looks kind of cool, but go with your gut.

6. If you are lucky enough to have a tire with a rim, then your pot will be easy to fill. I stapled some chicken wire in the bottom of this and added some newspaper. I then added a couple of inches of packing peanuts. If you don’t have those around, just use some broken pots or rocks.

7. I then filled my planter with my secret blend which is made up of Pro-Mix, peat moss, pearlite, vermiculite, and compost. I stapled some chicken wire to the flower that was cut out and used it as a trellis. In my container, I planted potatoes, radishes, onions, peas, beans and lettuce. Yes, all this in one little tire.

I suppose I could have just dumped dirt into a tire and called it a day, but that wouldn’t be nearly as much fun!

Photo Credit: K-Kwan Kwanchai/

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