Safe to use Tyres in Gardens?

by Les Boucher
(Sanctuary Point, N.S.W. Aus.)

G'day Folks,
For more years than I care to remember I have been advocating the use of old tyres for use in gardens. At the same time I have had a niggling doubt in the back of my mind about whether any chemicals were leaching out from the tyres and sinking into the ground.

I have just read an article, "Treading Carefully", in Organic Gardener (Australia) July/August 2009 edition written by Jo Immig which also raises this question. I would suggest that it might be an idea to read this before making up your own mind as to whether you wish to use them in your garden.

The article mentions that a recent comprehensive study into the use of crumb surfaces (such as pulverised tyres for playground surfaces and mulches) by the California Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, does raise some concerns including, finding that up to 49 chemicals could be released from recycled tyres.

Rather than rewrite the whole article (and risk prosecution for plagiarism) I'll just encourage you to read what is written in the magazine and I'll list links to the sources that were used for the article.

This may just be because the tyres were pulverised and does not apply to those tyres left whole. The final decision will be yours but as Jo states "....Better safe than sorry."


Comments for Safe to use Tyres in Gardens?

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Jul 25, 2010
Using tyres or tires in the garden
by: Kevin and Kerri, Tas, Aust

Tyres, (or tires as spelled in USA) have been used as planters for a long time in gardens. There has never been any noticeable poisonings! That said, it's the cumulous effect of the many chemicals in our lives can add up and cause problems – without us being able to pinpoint exactly what causes what, so it's wise to seek answers.
Opinions differ using whole tyres as planters, rather than shredded tyres for other uses, but even so, some say zinc can slowly and minutely leach from the tyres as they degrade over a long time apparently, and possibly traces of other toxic chemicals. If you want to be absolutely sure to avoid any possibility of toxic residues, a suggestion is to coat the insides of tyres with a no-toxic natural paint, stain, whitewash or sealer before use.

Oct 16, 2010
Using tires for gardening.
by: Champion spud grower

I have grown my spuds for years in old tires and I'm famous around these parts, well at least with my family and neighbors.

The very best thing tires do is heat up nicely, so with the warm soil the plants get an early start and a very late finish. Put tires in a sunny spot and feel the warmth radiate from them!
I do grow tomatoes and squash in tires also some years, but you have to be around to give them plenty of water and sometimes I'm not. Potatoes don't seem to mind missing the odd drink or two, so I can leave them alone to grow without me having to fuss around and look after them all the time. Dave.

Feb 12, 2015
never use tyres
by: baen

I have seen many people use tires in gardens. I think there is a problem with this. The tires can actually emit some bad gases at high temperatures, which might be unhealthy for the plants as well as us.

Jul 16, 2015
Scientific proof
by: Anonymous

Hello people. Can anyone who advocates the use of tires as planting pots please provide empirical evidence stating that these materials are safe?Its just seems that people are relating
their assumptions of whether
these things are good or not based on the physical appearance of the veg. This does not indicate heavy metals and so on and so on. you get the point. Bye bye

Sep 04, 2015
Compare to plastic bottles.
by: Anonymous

What about food and beverages in plastic bottles. There is controversy about this also, and using plastic to warm food in microwave.

Feb 05, 2017
Burden of proof
by: Lorna

Anonymous, prove it does harm!

You demand empirical proof that tyres DO NOT cause adverse effects by degradation, however the burden of proof of any hypothesis is always on the side that MAKES a claim, not refutes it!

In other words one cannot prove something DOESN'T happen, only that it does.

So far there has been no scientific evidence that vegetables grown in tyres contain any toxic substances as a result of tyre degradation.

Feb 05, 2017
by: Anonymous

One cannot prove something like this is safe, you can only show it to be UNSAFE.

Evidence SO FAR has shown no harmful or toxic substances emitted by unburnt and unshredded tyres.

Don't demand proof of safety for something you have a choice to do or not!

Apr 03, 2017
Tyres aren't tyres
by: Neil

Having worked in the tyre industry, one thing I can say with certainty is that some tyres will be more likely than others to contain harmful chemicals, which may or may not then leech into soil and/or vegetables.

In particular, most tyres from quality European and American brands will be free of the worst toxic and highly volatile 'aromatic' compounds. Tyres from cheap Chinese and Indian makers often do not comply with strict EU regulations, and they flood the market here due to lax Australian laws in this regard.

If I were to use tyres for vegetable beds I would only use those from a quality manufacturer.

Mar 14, 2018
If you're worried about chemicals leeching...
by: Anonymous can always try putting a pond liner in the tire, before adding soil. Of course, you won't be able to fill inside the tire void itself (which would normally be where the air is, when used as a tire), but that could actually be a good thing, as you're not wasting soil. If you're worried about it, fill that area with junky soil, lay the pond liner in, then fill that with good soil.

Just remember to punch a couple drainage holes in the liner, so it doesn't become waterlogged, at the bottom!

May 17, 2018
by: Ian

There's a lot of confusion here over "burden of proof" etc. Look how long it took to effectively prove that tobacco smoke killed people. Meanwhile the health of countless people was adversely affected. There were multiple reasons for this - and the tyre industry provides up to 1 billion new tyres per year so similar industrial interests are present. Over 40 chemicals are added to tyres - including halogens, lead and cadmium. As there is no independent research or funding into the overall safety of this - it only makes sense to assume the worst- like sensible people did with tobacco smoke - until a proper "all clear" is given.

Perhaps meanwhile a tyre brand could be encouraged to produce an "eco tyre" with no potentially harmful chemicals added. For at least a generation we all drank from plastic bottles or plastic coated aluminium bottles with bisphenols - so stating that the burden of proof is on those who recognised the potential danger is not terribly reassuring. Industry can only be trusted to do what is required to make a profit.

Basically - if it's not natural then it's suspect and the jury is out - always.

Jun 06, 2018
by: Anonymous

As I have clay soil, tyres will be economical to help fill my raised beds as to fill them with good will be really expensive. May even keep the rabbits at bay also.

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