Retaining wall from rammed earth tyres

Anything to do with environmental building projects.
Post Reply
User avatar
Living the good life
Living the good life
Posts: 404
Joined: Fri Mar 16, 2007 12:54 pm
Location: Aberdeenshire

Retaining wall from rammed earth tyres

Post: # 54658Post Cassiepod
Thu Apr 19, 2007 12:56 pm

Hi! I'm looking for advice on building a retaining wall in my garden. It's on a long slope which will be hard to mow and not very useful.

I'm aiming to put in a retaining wall mid way and level off to have a lawn area and a veggie area.

Ideally we'd build a dry stone wall but that might take more skill than we have...

If we were to use rammed earth in tyres to build the wall can anyone tell me if I need to use a certain type of earth inside the tyres?

Any advuce would be greatly appreciated. I've had a look on the web and can't seem to find a handy "how to" guide.

User avatar
A selfsufficientish Regular
A selfsufficientish Regular
Posts: 1905
Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2005 4:45 pm
Location: Urban Berkshire, UK (one day I'll find the escape route)

Post: # 54739Post Muddypause
Thu Apr 19, 2007 11:03 pm

Rammed earth tyres are a lot of hard work, but if you are up for it, they are easy enough to do. Ideally, you would ram them full of gravel, scalpings, small stone chips, all-in ballast - that sort of thing, preferably mixed with clay. I'm by no means an authority on the subject, but here's a brief guide, based on a couple of projects I've taken part in:

1) Establish a firm and level base for the wall.

2) Position your first tyre, flat on the ground. To stop all the stuff that you are about to ram into it coming out of the bottom, put some cardboard in it (raid the skips behind your nearest supermarket for cartons).

3) Now shovel in some clay/gravelly stuff, take your sledghammer, and start whacking the earth into the sides of the tyre. Shovel some more in and do it again. You'll be amazed at just how much stuff you can compact into it. Aim to have the sidewalls of the tyre bulging equally all round, and solid to the push. When you think it's full, you are about half way.

4) Sit down and recover. Tea, beer, cakes.

Repeat 1-3, plus additional 4 as necessary.

Keep checking that your tyres are level and straight, and that you have a level, even first course before you start on the second course. Spirit levels, laser levels, string levels, will all help with this. Stagger the courses so that you don't form columns of tyres.

My one reservation about all this is that you are building a wall without a roof over it, so presumably all the stuff in the tyres may be subject to washing away over time due to rain. Maybe some sort of capping could be fitted.

I recently searched on YouTube for 'Earthship' and came up with loads of videos - some of them may have people showing how it's done.

Ignorance is essential

User avatar
A selfsufficientish Regular
A selfsufficientish Regular
Posts: 1172
Joined: Thu Dec 29, 2005 2:23 pm
Location: The Queensland, Australia.

Post: # 54755Post Boots
Fri Apr 20, 2007 3:09 am

I have tyre retainer walls, that I have developed alongside rain. Am afraid I am one that really looks to work in with the earth/Mother Nature, and am happy to take the time to do that (ie. can be slack). Your conditions are probably very different to mine, so the following may be totally useless...

I have built up a number of sloping pens which are now at 3 tyres high. I just lay out the catchment line with a row of tyres, which I make very little effort to fill unless I also intend to grow in them.

I then wait for rain, but if you wanted to speed up the whole process, you would just back fill and infill. Once the soil reaches the top of the first tyre, I then add another row. I have done some in columns and they seem to sit better this way (with or without filling) but you have to muck about a bit and match them up and make sure your wall is sitting tight. If you were going high (like in 5+ tyres) I doubt you could column them. Will let you know when I get there.

Personally, I prefer rock walls and I build them in exactly the same manner... about a foot at a time, wait for rain, and do it again. I think they look much nicer and provide important homes for little critters. But maybe you are planning to render the tyres?

Tyres make excellent loading docks, but am afraid I wouldnt ram them... I am just kinda slack I guess... I'm happy to just wait for their contents to settle and then keep topping them up.
"Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It's already tomorrow in Australia." - Charles Schultz

User avatar
Mare Owner
Tom Good
Tom Good
Posts: 97
Joined: Wed Feb 07, 2007 5:43 am
Location: Minnesota, USA

Post: # 58677Post Mare Owner
Sat May 26, 2007 12:15 am

Boots wrote:Personally, I prefer rock walls and I build them in exactly the same manner... about a foot at a time, wait for rain, and do it again. I think they look much nicer and provide important homes for little critters. But maybe you are planning to render the tyres?

Can you explain better how you do this with the rain? The rain washes away soil/gravel down the slope, which fills in and holds the wall?

We have some spots that need retaining walls, we are on a hill with a gradual slope, and we have all the rocks we could ever want. We don't get that much rain though, and we have horses that will be around and on the walls so they need to be short and solid.

Willox Perez
margo - newbie
margo - newbie
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Oct 06, 2009 11:13 am

Re: Retaining wall from rammed earth tyres

Post: # 171143Post Willox Perez
Tue Oct 06, 2009 11:31 am

I like the Reply of Muddypause.Thanks a lot for sharing the information about how to create retaining wall from rammed earth tyre.

Post Reply