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Use of Tires for Erosion Control

Tom Streissguth

A tire bank has become a common method of shoring up waterways and preventing soil erosion. This provides a way of usefully recycling a troublesome waste product with minimal environmental impact. Tire banks are an effective substitute for sandbags, which will leak, break, and fall apart with age.

Verify the Law

Call your state's environmental protection agency to determine the law regarding use of whole tires for erosion control. Not all states permit this use of scrap tires.


Measure the surface area to be reinforced. Multiply the elevation by the length of the bank to arrive at the square footage. A single tire will cover about 2.5 square feet. Select tires that are whole and largely undamaged. Recycled tire reinforcement comes in various forms, each with its unique surface coverage.


Place tires from the bottom of the bank. Insert the bottom row a few inches into the soil and seat the tires horizontally. Make sure the tires remain in a horizontal position as each row is placed. Don't simply pile the tires up in a haphazard fashion. Eventually such a tire bank will collapse and cause serious environmental damage.

Tire Bales

If scrap tires are unavailable, use tire bales, which are compressed tires tied together with steel wire. This must be prepared and placed using heavy equipment such as a front-end loader.