planting in old tires

Asked January 4, 2017, 4:52 PM EST

Is it safe to use an old automobile or tractor tire to make a bed to plant vegetables and/or ornamental plants? I saw a statement in a magazine that this practice should be discouraged but there was no reason given. Thank you.

Frio County Texas

1 Response

Old tires pose 3 primary environmental risks, chemical, disease, and fire.

Tires are not just rubber any more. They are better described as petrol-chemical plastics. As such they break down over time and can release petroleum chemicals to the soil and some heavy metals. While the release is slow, it can build up over time.

We are always concerned about mosquito growth in tires. A very small puddle of water can produce a lot of mosquitoes and they are a vector for several diseases. A tire would need soil placed very carefully to avoid becoming a mosquito breeding site.

The fire issue seems small for a single tire in the landscape or even a small group of tires. It a wildfire situation they can still pose a pollution risk to the soil and the air.