Reinventing the Wheel: 12 Smart New Uses for Old Tires

Think twice before hauling old tires off to the trash. Instead, use them to DIY outdoor seating and recreation, trash receptacles, and even a snuggly spot for pets.
Colorful flowers and tire pots

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When overburdened with old tires, your first instinct might be to throw them on the curb or take them to your nearest landfill. Before you do that, however, it’s important to know that discarding your old tires in landfills is not only one of the biggest waste contributors in the U.S., but can also leach harmful chemicals like methane into the air and water. While recycling tires is an option, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, roughly 280 million tires are thrown away each year and only 30 million of these tires get retreaded or reused, leaving the rest of the scrap tires in stockpiles or landfills. Wondering what to do with old tires when you buy new ones for your car? Here are few of our favorite innovative ways to upcycle car tires and lessen the burden on overstressed landfills.

The Dos and Don’ts of Reusing and Disposing of Tires

When getting rid of scrap tires, it’s important to keep environment in mind. Bear these guidelines in mind when deciding what to do with your old Goodyears and Michelins.


  • Take them to a professional tire recycling center. Businesses like Discount Tire will take discarded tires and hand them off to a third-party tire recycling company. There, the tire is separated and the components are individually recycled or repurposed, minimizing much of the waste and pollution. While recycling old tires might involve a fee, it’s important to know that tires are extremely difficult to properly recycle yourself. These professional recycling companies ensure that they are recycled safely and in accordance with local laws and regulations.
  • Repurpose old tires. Get creative! There are numerous ways to repurpose old tires by turning them into stools, planters, and more.


  • Dump old tires into a body of water. Piles of tires in water can pose a serious threat to marine life and our ecosystem.
  • Burn old tires. Burning old tires releases toxic chemicals like sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, and more that can pose serious health risks and pollute the air.
  • Toss tires in a landfill. It takes approximately 50 to 80 years for one car tire to decompose completely in a landfill. What’s more, the non-biodegradable nature of rubber will eventually release harmful chemicals into the air and contaminate soil and water quality.
  • Use tires as veggie planters. While reusing old tires is better than improperly discarding them, avoid using tires as planters for food you’ll eat. Old tires release harmful chemicals that can leach into the soil and pose serious health risks.

Clever Ways to Upcycle Old Tires

Tires are bulky, and loading a set into the car to bring to a recycling center is no walk in the park. Putting them to good use around your property means not having to schlep them across town—and after all, how often do free, durable, large containers come along?

Without modifying them at all, used tires can corral sports balls in the garage, or stand in as makeshift sawhorses for painting baseboard trim. If you put a little work into jazzing old tires up, though, their uses increase exponentially.

1. Tire Stools

A stool made from an old tire painted green with pink polka dot upholstry on top, in a sunny backyard party.
Photo: RobertRoseCarpentry via

Old tires are notorious recycling nightmares, but you can make them swoon-worthy by converting them into fabric-covered stools. The addition of legs transforms rubber tires into the ultimate durable outdoor seating.

2. Tire Seesaw

Close view of a seesaw made from an old tire painted blue with a cartoon face and blue plank on top

Don’t forget the kids! This old tire was halved, fitted with a length of wood, and then painted and decorated to serve as a playful outdoor rocking toy for young tots. Remember, if you decide to make one, you’ll have two—so be sure to plan ahead by picking up enough wood and paint.

3. Tire Planters

blooming garden with old tires in the foreground

Colorful, useful, and fun, these tire planters form the foundation for a delightful container garden. Devise an appealing arrangement that suits the area you want to fill, fill the tires with gravel or bark and add plants! If you like, you can even spray-paint old tires in the colors of your choice. For added interest, choose tires of different sizes and treads.

Note: As tires break down over time, they release toxic substances that can contaminate the soil and pose a risk to the well-being of your plants.As such, we do not recommend planting edible plants in tire “beds”—to be on the safe side, you may even opt for artificial plants.

4. Ottoman

A cozy living room armchair with a round ottoman made from jumbo yarn.

This DIY ottoman looks so inviting and cozy, it’s hard to believe that a tire is beneath it all! All it takes to make is an old inner tube and some sisal rope to wrap around it. The ottoman’s durability makes it a great seat both indoors and out.

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5. Pet Bed

A black labrador puppy curled up inside a pink tire repurposed as a pet bed.
Photo: Practically Functional

If you’ve got an old tire lying around and a furry friend in need of a new bed, you’re in luck. Clean the tire thoroughly and add a thick cushion or blanket inside to create a new place to get some shut-eye for your pet. You can even paint it with a fun, pet-safe paint like this DIYer for a stylish touch.

6. Outdoor Swing

tire swing in a backyard

Transform an old tire into a fun outdoor swing with ease. Simply clean the tire, and secure it to a sturdy tree branch with heavy-duty rope.

7. Tire Staircase

Old used car Tires filled with granite rock stones to make stairs on on the slope in backyard.

One of the most popular ideas for old tires is to form a convenient and inexpensive outdoor staircase. If you’ve got an elevated portion of land in the backyard, arrange a few tires in a stair-like pattern and fill them with soil or rocks for added stability.

RELATED: 14 Clever New Uses for Old Newspapers

8. Exercise Equipment

Young couple exercising on the roof of a building with tires

Create DIY workout equipment with old tires! Large tires are especially useful to flip as they’re extremely heavy and make for great exercise. Remember to bend with your hips and knees and not your back!

9. Umbrella Stand

A beach with patio chairs on the sand with sun umbrella in a recycled tire stand.

If you’ve got an old tire lying around, you can DIY a patio umbrella stand by setting a PVC pipe (into which the umbrella is inserted) in some quick-set concrete.

RELATED: Buyer’s Guide: The Best Patio Umbrellas We Tested This Year

10. Christmas Tree Stand

A white and pastel colored christmas tree with a tire base painted green.

Repurpose an old tire as a chic and sturdy Christmas tree stand. Clean it thoroughly before bringing it indoors and paint it in the color of your choice. This DIYer went with a fun color to match the tree decor. Fill the tire with fake snow (available at most craft stores) and now you have a charming Christmas tree stand.

11. DIY Garden Pond

Closeup of a homemade backyard pond.

Easily transform your backyard into a charming oasis with this DIY garden tire pond. Dig a hole large enough to fit your tire inside and line the bottom with sand. Cut the upper part of the tire off to create the pond, line it with a cloth, and fill it with water. You can even add large stones around it, as seen here.

RELATED: 10 Water Features That’ll Make Any Backyard Landscape Complete

12. Trash Bin

A trash can made from old tires with a face painted on it in a park

One of the simplest ways to use old tires, this DIY trash bin makes an easy and practical solution for disposing of waste. Simply stack two to three tires on top of one another and line the stack with a heavy-duty trash bag.