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How to Make a DIY Tire Planter

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Spring is finally here! If you’re anything like me, that means it’s time to get out in the sunshine and play around in your garden. The season is all about making old things new, so follow along with me as I turn “trash into treasure” with the cutest DIY tire planter.

Hanging tire planter filled with mixed container flowers

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Supplies Needed

  • Rubber tire
  • Drill
  • Indoor/outdoor spray paint
  • Potting soil
  • Plants:
    • Angelonia (Thriller)
    • Vincas (Filler)
    • Yellow Calibrachoa, Petunias, and Sweet Potato Vine (Spillers)
  • Dropcloth or cardboard (to protect work surface)

How To Make Tire Planters For Your Garden

This is a great project that not only upcycles old tires but also adds a dose of whimsy to your outdoor decorating style.

I chose to hang my tire planter from a tree so my family and I can enjoy the vibrant flowers from a distance. However, you can easily lay your tire planter on the ground, hang it on your patio, or nail it to the wall for a floating planter aesthetic.

Hanging tire planter colored with spray paint and filled with container garden flowers

If you don’t have a used tire just lying around, no problem! I called a local auto repair shop to ask for my tire. Discount Tire or other tire shops may have spare black tires to donate. You can also try repurposing an old tire swing your kids have outgrown.

Whatever tire you use, make sure it’s durable enough to hold your plants and soil. Some people say that large tractor tires are the most sturdy for a DIY planter, but I’ve found regular car tires work just fine!

1. Clean the tire planter

Before painting your tire, you’ll want to start with a good cleaning. If you’re repurposing an old tire, it’s likely to be caked with dust and dirt. I suggest wearing gardening gloves!

Rubber tire lying on ground after cleaning, before spray painting
Rubber tire after cleaning

To clean the tire, you can use any heavy-duty washcloth or rag and soapy water. If necessary, you can use a degreaser to remove any oily spots.

Scrub the outside of the tire until all debris is removed. This will help the paint to adhere.

2. Drill drainage holes in the tire

Next, you’ll need to add drainage holes to your tire planter. Using a drill bit or sharp knife, drill 6-8 holes in the bottom of the tire, leaving 1-2 inches of space between them.

Drilling drainage holes in tire with drill

This step is super important to drain water out of your planter and avoid root rot. Make sure the drainage holes cover the amount of space you plan to fill with plants.

3. Spray paint the exterior of the tire

Now it’s time to give your tire planter some color! I recommend this spray paint, which is made for both indoor and outdoor use and has a sleek finish. This type of paint also doesn’t require a primer.

Spray painting exterior of rubber tire

I chose a teal color that I had used previously to make pressed flower wall art. You can select any hue that speaks to you based on your decor style. You can even paint multiple planters and use different colors for each one!

Before spray painting, I suggest laying down a dropcloth or pieces of cardboard to protect your work surface. You should always paint in a well-ventilated area, preferably outdoors.

Tip: When spray painting, this tool comes in handy to avoid getting your hands messy.

After spraying one side of your planter, be sure to wait a full hour before painting the other side. If you want to add additional layers of paint, wait one hour in between coats.

Let your planter dry overnight before adding your potting soil.

4. Add potting soil to the tire

Once your tire planter is sporting the color of your choice, it’s time to add your soil. Evenly distribute your potting soil throughout the bottom half of the tire planter (the side with the drainage holes).

Steps to filling tire planter with soil and adding water before adding plants

I like to use this potting soil for my plants, but feel free to use any potting mix that you prefer for your garden.

You want the height of your soil to be all the way up to the rim of your tire planter without spilling over the sides. This way, the roots of your flowers have enough room to grow.

Note: Make sure to water your potting soil before adding plants.

If you’re looking for more gardening tips this season, be sure to check out my guide on Vegetable Gardening For Beginners!

5. Add plants to the tire planter

Adding plants to your tire planter is all about balancing your display. In my tire planter, I have at least one thriller plant, one filler plant, and one spiller plant.

For the non-gardening experts out there, this is the technique that will keep your container garden looking professional.

Adding plants to tire planter container garden
Adding Yellow Calibrachoa, Angelonia and Vincas to the tire planter

A thriller plant is the main focal point of your container garden. This plant is vertical in structure, adding height to your garden.

I used Angelonia as the thriller in my tire planter. I love the way the rich, deep purple color is the first thing onlookers’ eyes are drawn to!

Filler plants are mid-sized plants that are typically mounding perennials. These flowers support the thriller by filling in the inside of the planter and adding volume to your display.

For my tire planter filler, I chose to use white and pink Vincas, but there are hundreds of great fillers out there.

A spiller plant looks exactly how it sounds. These plants cascade over the edge of the display and spill down from the sides.

I used Yellow Calibrachoa, Petunias, and Sweet Potato Vine as my spillers. The Yellow Calibrachoa and Petunias add a lovely burst of light color, while the Sweet Potato Vine adds depth and contrast to the arrangement.

Thriller Plant Ideas

  • Angelonia
  • Coreopsis
  • Cordylines
  • Sage
  • Salvia

Filler Plant Ideas

  • Vincas
  • Begonias
  • Caladium
  • Coleus
  • Pentas
  • Petunias

Spiller Plant Ideas

  • Yellow Calibrachoas
  • Creeping Jenny
  • Purple Heart
  • Sweet Potato Vine
  • Trailing lobelia
  • Trailing Petunias

Whichever plants you choose, make sure the plants have the same sun/shade requirements and can grow well together. If you aren’t sure, a local nursery can help you select the perfect combination.

After planting, be sure to water regularly! Hanging tire planters may dry out more quickly than garden beds, so treat them as you would a hanging flower pot.

Displaying Your DIY Tire Planter

Finally, it’s time to choose how you want to display your DIY tire planter. Personally, I went with the hanging tire planter option.

Finished tire planter shown next to gardening gloves

To hang your planter, you’ll need a heavy-duty rope to make a hitch knot and loop it through your tire. Make sure you hang your planter from a strong, sturdy branch.

If you don’t want to hang your planter, you can lay it flat and use it as a raised garden bed. You can also stack tires to make a taller bed for plants with deeper roots. (A stacked tire planter can also keep some pests like rabbits at bay.)

I hope you enjoyed this easy tutorial. Let me know in the comments how you plan to use your new DIY tire planter!

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Hanging tire planter with flower arrangement hanging from a tree. Text overlay reads "DIY Tire Planter"
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  • Are tires safe to use as planters?

    According to most experts, while tires do contain some harmful chemicals, those toxins are only released upon incineration and are not water-soluble, making tires a safe choice as planters. If you have safety concerns, however, you can choose an alternative planter for edibles like fruits and vegetables and leave the tire planter for decorative displays.

  • How often will I need to water?

    Similar to hanging baskets, hanging tire planters may require frequent watering for the average non-succulent plant. Watering frequency depends heavily on the time of year. During the fall or winter months, you may only need to water your planter every two to three days. In the heat of the summer, you may need to water your planter daily.

  • What do I use as a liner for a flat tire garden?

    You can use a porous landscape fabric to line the bottom of a tire planter that rests on the ground. This will serve as a weed barrier and still allow water to drain.

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