Concerns About Using Recycled Tire Planters


Are old tires safe to use as planters?

Sharon White
Mora, New Mexico

Short-term, yes, tire planters are OK, although the soil in black tire planters will probably get hotter than most plants would prefer. Long-term, no, because the tire rubber will slowly biodegrade and release zinc, carcinogenic PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) and other toxic compounds into your garden soil.

Toxics from tires are an even greater concern in some recycled products, such as rubber mulch and artificial turf, that are made from shredded or pelletized old tires. Here is an excellent report about the hazards of recycled tires, by Sarah Lane at Progressive Kid.

Cheryl Long is the editor in chief of MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine, and a leading advocate for more sustainable lifestyles. She leads a team of editors which produces high quality content that has resulted in MOTHER EARTH NEWS being rated as one North America’s favorite magazines. Long lives on an 8-acre homestead near Topeka, Kan., powered in part by solar panels, where she manages a large organic garden and a small flock of heritage chickens. Prior to taking the helm at MOTHER EARTH NEWS, she was an editor at Organic Gardening magazine for 10 years. Connect with her on .

Queen Bee
1/16/2018 1:48:24 PM

Is there a way to seal the tires, such as painting or coating them, to slow or halt the release of the harmful compounds? I have very wet soil in my yard, so gardening has to be done in raised beds. I can't afford the lumber to build that many garden boxes, to say nothing about my lack of skill as a carpenter. So if tires can't be sealed against the toxins, does anyone have any other ideas?

Queen Bee
1/16/2018 1:03:05 PM

Is there a way to seal the tires? For instance, painting or coating to make the release of harmful things slow or halted? I have very wet soil in my yard, so any gardens must be elevated, and I can't afford to build that many garden boxes! I can, however, find tires! Any ideas?

Emily Layfield Grisier
5/10/2012 8:41:43 PM

The article referenced above talked about pelleted rubber. The pelleting of tires would greatly increase any reactions as it increases the surface volume. I would like to see a study done on whole intact tires directly related to leaching in the environment and plants ability to absorb and pass on these chemicals.

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