old tire retaining wall

Discussion in 'Shop Talk' started by gobug, Aug 2, 2004.

  1. gobug

    gobug Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Colorado
    I want to build a retaining wall. I have heard of walls made with old tires. This seems like a good idea. I would appreciate any advice, secrets, and experiences.

    Should the tires be similar size?
    How do you get the tires filled with dirt.
    Do some of the tires need to be anchored to the hill?
    Is there a limit on height?

    Thanks
     
  2. daeve

    daeve Well-Known Member

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    Jan 24, 2003
    Location:
    East Central Alabama
    The ones I have built were only 3 to 5 rows high but some of them have been in use for 10+ years. I use a jigsaw with a blade modified using my Dremal tool to resemble a ginsu knife and cut one side out of the tires. Start with the larger diameter tires on the bottom row. Fill with dirt, back half can be clay or whatever but outside half needs to be filled with topsoil or something that can be planted. Set the next row back between a third and half the diameter of the first row and with the tires offset so they are between the ones on the first row. And continue up the hill. Plant with whatever vegetation you like but consider ivy or some ground cover that will survive in your area without much care.

    You can also use uncut tires but packing them solidly with dirt is a chore. Requires heavy use of a sledge hammer (or air ram if you are doing many of them) to ram the dirt back into the tire to "inflate" it. If memory serves we used about 3 to 4 medium wheelbarrows of dirt to a 15 inch tire. They then stack like blocks or brick and if they don't lean back into the hill (and on high walls even then) you need to stake each row into place with pieces of rebar or pipe 3 or 4 times as long as the thickness of the tire so it penetrates 2 or 3 rows below the one you are adding. Curving the length of your walls also adds strength. On high walls or walls that are built along hillsides that show signs of movement (trees slanting downhill) you may need to add anchors, like the ones used to anchor mobile homes, back into the hillside.

    I personally prefer the cut tire walls. They are easier to build (other than cutting the side-walls out of the tires) and with the vegetation covering them you don't even know there are tires there. They help with erosion and are easy to care for. They do take more space than a vertical wall, but require less staking as the roots of the plants help hold everything in place once established. They are also easy to add steps. Just fill a tire or 2 in each row with gravel, cement or rock and meander up the hill.

    Good luck!
    Dave
     

  3. gobug

    gobug Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Thanks for the ideas, Dave. I had heard about packing the dirt with a sledge hammer; couldn't imagine it would be easy. Is that why no one wants to build their own earthship?

    My property has a large southern sloped hill that would make a perfect year round garden --- if terraced. I figure two terraces below the top level. I will have to measure the height so I have an idea of how many tires I'll need.

    Thanks again.
    Gary