Saturday, June 6, 2009

Tire Recycling in South Carolina

By Skeeter

While taking a break from my Georgia Garden this spring, we ventured to one of my favorite places being Charleston, South Carolina. I showed you that fun time and shared a Ghost Story with you a while back.

While on the journey even though only a 2 and half hour drive, we had to make a Pit Stop along the return home. That happens if you have yummy Mango Margaritas before you head home. Thank you so much Saint for being the coke drinker and getting us silly people home safely. You did earn your "Saint" title that trip!

Before I ever made it to the restroom, I spotted this strange mulch in the flower beds. I did not think to snap a picture of the flower beds as my attention span was captured by the mulch. Not sure if you can read the small lettering on this sign so I will print the words for you...

The State of SC collects $2.00 for each tire commercially sold in the state. Fees are deposited into a trust fund and used to clean up and recycle waste tires. The rubberized landscape mulch used throughout this rest area was produced from waste tires which were illegally dumped within the nine counties listed above. The tire-derived landscaping mulch provides a high quality, long lasting product which serves on as an alternative to traditionally organic mulch materials.

I am not sure about this type mulch but do highly believe in the concept of this recycling attempt. I would think that the chemicals (oil) used to make the tires may harm the plants. Maybe they do something to take the oils out of the recycled tire or maybe the oil is good for a plant. I have not researched this type mulch but have noticed bags of rubber mulch in some Garden Centers lately.
Have any of you Garden Bloggers used this type material in your gardens or researched it at all? I will stick to my pine straw as I love the look of it and the nutrient value it has for my acid loving plants. I have to replenish it yearly where this rubber mulch would last probably forever! Hum, I wonder if this is good for a garden?

I am confused (uneducated) with the TIRE RECYCLING IN SOUTH CAROLINA, that's going on In the Garden...


  1. Stick with your pine straw. As it decomposes it will feed the soil, plus it looks good and is probably free for you. The tires will decompose... well never! I can't think it would be that much different than throwing chopped up trash on your garden. One application where it might work would be in playgrounds, that is if it is safe and there are no little bits of metal sticking out.

  2. Good Morning Everyone,
    I hope all had a very restful night.
    Skeeter I have heard of this type mulch but have not used it myself. I too have wondered about the composition of the tires as to the effect on plant material. Also I have thought about how one would replace a plant with this type mulch. I know it could be raked back but I fear some of it would be in the soil not on it. Personally I will stay with natural mulch.
    I hope everyone has a beautiful day whether in the garden or not.

  3. Hi There Skeeter .. I would not use this type of mulch either .. I want what I use to eventually break down for the good of the soil .... cedar mulch that has been organically colour to black which eventually turns gray .. but it breaks down in any case ..
    There must be other ways of recycling tires than this right ? LOL

  4. Hi Skeeter, interesting concept but I think it would be good on a playground as mentioned. I do wonder if it would keep the weeds down? I don't know it just would seem like it might suffocate plants?? Very busy day yesterday --missed you gals! Welcome back Tina! Sounds like your trip went well --no road trips for us yet. I would like a small day trip though:) Fishing tournament for the kiddos today at the Fairgrounds. Have a great day!

    Hi Jean --still feeling a bit envious that you still were able to pick lilacs. Mine just don't last very long down here at all:( It seemed like back home we had them for a longer time period.

    Hi Lola --hoping your seeing some nice sunny weather. My sisters inlaws went down there for vacation and came back early because it was so rainy.
    Must get the kiddos ready and out the door --lil bundle and I will go separate to fish --don't want too much sun or bug bites. Ciao!

  5. Hi Skeeter, Apparently we in Virginia pay a fee when we buy tires for disposal. Not sure whether they make mulch. Like Les said, maybe around playground areas -- but I bet there are toxins that aren't the healthiest to have where small children play.

  6. Good morning all! That is very educational. I think it great the state is recycling those 'illegally' dumped tires (what are people thinking??) into something useful-I suppose. I would not use this in my garden but! I think it would be okay for a play area maybe? I've seen it marketed that way. I think the SC folks must know this is not the best type of mulch to use in gardening, but hey, it's free for them, lasts forever and probably saves them money. Plus-it sure pays to pass the word about. I think if I was an illegal tire dumper the thought of my state using mulch made from the tires would be enough to make me stop!:))

  7. You know how some people plant potatoes in a tire? I was going to try that. When I researched it there were warnings that the toxins from the tires could get into the potatoes, therefore not really safe thing to do. Exactly how would they remove all of the chemicals in a rubber tire for mulch without totally recycling them? Just a thought.

  8. I think tires can be recycled into new tires fairly easily... I'm personally a little leery of the mulch, but I do applaud any recycling efforts. (Clap, clap.)

  9. I read the opposite about the chemicals from the tires, it took me a while but I found info on a college blog from a professor who cited a state study. The chemicals don't really leach, otherwise our roadways would be dramaticly harmed with the amount of cars and heated friction. But, he did say if anyone was leary not to use it as , containment/mulch. I personally would like it around my roses as they seem to grow like a jungle every year! Ouch!

  10. I'd definitely avoid the rubber mulch in your garden, Skeeter. But it is great in places like playgrounds. My son just dug up all the wood mulch around his kids' play structure and gave it to me--yeah, free mulch!! He replaced it with the rubber mulch--much softer for the kids and he won't have to replace it each year.
    It's definitely a great way to recycle old tires.

    I'm not much of a drinker, but I do love mango margaritas!

  11. Good Morning everyone! We are running late as we slept in today! We have a long list of "To Do" in the yard today so must keep this short....

    I am finding your comments on this tire mulch interesting. I just do not believe it would be good in a flower garden. I do recall all the plants in the mulched are of SC only being bushes and no blooming type plants so maybe that has a meaning as well. Hum....

    Another thing I forgot to mention, if you have pets, the tire mulch could be an issue also if they like to chew on mulch. The tires would not be good for them...

    Need run now, sky is looking gray and we have a lot to get done before the rain starts....

    Anonymous, keep the little bundle wrapped up in netting from the bugs and have fun with the kiddos fishing! Good Luck to all for the winning fishy. I hope Girl Model wins the big one. Tee hee..…

  12. I am all for recycling but I would not use it as mulch. For the time being it must be okay but I just wonder what the long term effect to the plants and the ground will be. I would however like to try and grow potatoes in some as I ran out of garden space and am now trying to find some old tires. Would'nt you know we had a mess of them and took them to the recycling center just last summer. Happens every time I get rid of something....I want it!!! I did not know about it till Dawn talked about it. I found a site that tells you how to do it and I printed it off in case I can find some tires.

    Anonymous our Lilacs are just about gone. They don't last very long. Just when we are kids time does not go fast like now. Have fun and I hope the kiddos catch a lotta fish.

  13. Hi Skeeter, I haven't heard about this type of mulch before but it's always interesting to learn something new. Personally I'd never use it even if it came dirt cheap:)

  14. I have heard of it, but it wouldn't look very natural. I don't think I would use it, but at least they're attempting to recycle.

  15. Thanks for the report on this mulch...I use soil conditioner, (finely ground pine bark) because it breaks down so quickly in the south to improve the soil. Rubber mulch might be perfect for commercial application, but not for most of us!

    They are recycling tires into a good looking faux slate roof...maybe they should stick with that!


  16. The idea of it not breaking down sounds great, but organic mulch adds nutrients to the soil in the process. I would leave that kind of mulch for playgrounds. :)

  17. Hi again Skeeter,
    I think anything with petroleum in it could be harmful to plants. I'm glad they are using the old tires for something besides being tossed anywhere. Sometimes they just burn them. Boy, what a black smoke that is being put into our air. We are being charged a disposal fee for each tire. Playgrounds I admit are safer with the old tire versus wood chips. Splinters, ouch. I still would prefer the natural mulch.
    Hi Anonymous, more rain here 3 days in a row---so wet. Thundering now, hard rain off & on. Hope the kiddos have a great time. Yes, do keep the little bundle covered. I have found that when we are bitten a little dab of hydrocortisone cream will take the itch & swelling out of the bite. It even works on me. The sooner after a bite is best.
    Jean, have you thought about using an old bucket, pan or anything that will hold soil to plant your potatoes in. Even an old garbage can. Just put plenty holes in the bottom for drainage. Just so you can add soil as the plants grow. I ordered one of those potato bags & am trying that. So far they are doing great. It feels like some kind of very porous felt.
    Will let you know.
    Tina, are you still dry?

  18. Interesting idea; I'm with the general consensus that this looks great for a play area but maybe not something I'd want to put in a garden until further notice. Maybe another use for these bits of tires could be walkways, esp. for people who jog: bouncier surface = less damage to joints and feet.

  19. I've seen the rubber mulch with different color to match the landscape design; personally I think it is too artificial and bad for the environment.

  20. Good Evening everyone! Some really great chatting on the tires being used for mulch. I do like the idea of a walkway or jogging surface by Pomon! If we ever make pathways in the front woods, this may be an idea for us but still not sure as it may harm the wild flowers in the woods. But something to think about though...

    The rains passed us by today so we were able to knock out a lot of the "To Do" list in the yard! I had fun digging in the dirt but not trimming 8 bushes. Arg, that was a hot job in the sun but all finished until the next time.

    We are waiting for the weather report for tomorrow and hopefully, we can get our “Liquid Asset” to the lake. My legs need to be propped up for a bit after all of today’s work…

    Everyone have a Good Day tomorrow with your loved ones...

  21. I have a question does anyone here have a problem with using plastic planters, synthetic weed control fabric, plastic digging utensils, and treated lumber around there flower beds?
    All of the items I just mentioned have a much larger potential to leach toxins, heavy metals, and carcinogenic compounds into the soil then tire chips. If it were true that
    tire rubber leached so much toxic stuff into the soil that it would kill your plants then wouldn't it seem logical that plants experiencing runoff from asphalt surfaces would die. Yes tire rubber contains petroleum, but in order to release this petroleum from the compounds it need to be exposed to solvents or extreme heat that is not available in your flower bed. Plus as far as zinc contamination read the MSO on your flower fertilizer. You will find that most fertilizer actually contain zinc.

    Just my two cents but why stigmatize a potentially useful product as unfriendly to the environment, on the basis of unfounded theory.

  22. Hi Joe B,
    Very good points you bring up. I don't think anyone is stigmatizing the mulch made from used tires, just that most of us prefer to use natural organic mulches and other soil conditioners since the natural organic mulches add to the soil. That is the goal of gardeners-to make great soil; which in turn will hopefully make great plants. Rubber mulch surely has its uses in a multitude of settings. The rubber probably doesn't hurt the plants at all and can be used in flower beds, but it also doesn't add to the soil either. That is more the issue. But like all good gardeners, if anyone can recycle tires, as the state of South Carolina is doing-I say go for it! Thanks for dropping by and adding to the conversation. All opinions are valued both for and against any issue on this blog. And all opinions are valid as well.