Tyres for raised planter beds?

I just spent a few hours weeding around the guerrilla garden plant outside the architecture school in Launceston and started thinking. The garden was planted in tyres, cheap, available and surprisingly successful. But is it safe? I can smell the rubber so is there leaching of chemicals. I just spent a little time reaching on the internet and found the following.

Websites and blogs are numerous which raise the question of safety including the following:


The EPA released an  article The Use of Recycled Tire Materials on Playgrounds & Artificial Turf Fields

The report concluded that there appeared to be little long-term risk to human health.However, in August 2007, the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station reported the results of a small ($2,000) study it conducted to evaluate tire crumb. The laboratory concluded that “under relatively mild conditions of temperature and leaching solvent, components of crumb rubber produced from tires (i) volatilize into the vapor phase and (ii) are leached into water in contact with the crumbs.” The following compounds are found in tyres:

  • acetone
  • aniline
  • arsenic
  • barium
  • benzene
  • benzothiazole
  • cadmium
  • chloroethane
  • chromium
  • cobalt
  • copper
  • halogenated flame retardants
  • isoprene
  • latex
  • lead
  • manganese
  • mercury
  • methyl ethyl ketone
  • methyl isobutyl ketone
  • naphthalene
  • nickel
  • nylon
  • phenol
  • pigments
  • polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
  • polyester
  • rayon
  • styrene – butadiene
  • toluene
  • trichloroethylene

Interestingly the ABC presented on their website techniques of growing potatoes in tyres, see a fact sheet:re-using old tyres

but in 2010 released the following statement:

Since this story was made, research has suggested that growing potatoes in tyres risks chemical contamination of the edible tubers. The method is no longer recommended. (September 2010)


4 thoughts on “Tyres for raised planter beds?

    • Toxicity issues? They did a study on tyre crumb. Well i am assuming most of us would be thinking of using whole tyres filled with soil etc. If one stops to think about the heat etc that tyres are subjected to whilst still on our vehicles then it could be assumed that if the risk from toxic gasses etc were so great then we would be going back to wooden wagon wheels. Bored academics with a need to justify their existence always seem to disapprove a thinking persons good ideas. Gardens using WHOLE tyres are one of those good ideas.

      • Hi there,
        The tests that the scientific organisations undertook were on granulated tyres, which is a little different to whole tyres. However, it still remains that the advice from third parties is not to grow root vegetables in whole tyres due to potential toxicity issues. As there are some leaching issues, our opinion is that we suggest that you don’t growing anything in tyres.
        The heat generated from using the tyres on a car whilst driving is a different situation as we don’t grow our food on the tarmac!

        At the end of the day, it is completely up to the individual to decide on the safety of all their garden practices, based on the information that is currently available.

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