PHOTO: Paulette Johnson
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March 31, 2020

If your kids are spending more time at home due to the spread of COVID-19, you have an opportunity to get them more involved in life on your farm. And what better way to get started than to build a classic, quintessential tire swing?

Perhaps you have fond memories of playing on a tire swing as a kid and want your own children to experience the same joy. Maybe you want to encourage them to play outside and not spend extra home time glued to devices.

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In any case, building a tire swing is a quick, simple project that can be completed in an afternoon (if that). Plus, it’s a chance to enjoy some outdoor time with your children.

If this sounds like a win-win idea, then follow these four easy steps for how to build a simple tire swing:


1. Choose a strong, sturdy branch.

This first step is perhaps the most important. Safety comes first, and you must choose a strong, stout branch capable of supporting a heavy load, even when that load is jostling and swinging in every direction.

And don’t assume the branch will only need to support the weight of a child. The truth is, you’ll encounter plenty of adults who can’t resist the urge to give your tire swing a try.

So lean on the safe side and choose as large a branch as possible. Aim to find a sturdy limb at least eight inches in diameter where it connects to the tree. Hang your tire swing just a few feet or so from the trunk—the branch will be stronger here than at its end.

Examine the branch thoroughly beforehand to make sure it’s alive and healthy. If the bark is flaking off on one side, or if twigs further down the branch are dead, the branch may be dying and unsafe.

The health of the tree as a whole should also be considered. Any signs of rot or dieback, either on the branch or on the trunk of the tree, should prompt you to seek a different location for your tire swing.

The type of tree is another factor to consider. You should seek to use the branch of a hardwood tree, such as a sugar maple or oak, rather than the branch of a softwood coniferous tree. (These are more inclined to break.)

Good old common sense goes a long way in finding the best branch. Pick one that’s ready to support your 250-pound brother in law, and you’re probably good to go.


Learn more about different kinds of wood and their best uses.


2. Find a suitable tire.

You probably have a few old tires sitting around (what farmer doesn’t?). But don’t choose a battered antique that’s almost totally worn out.

Choose a tire that’s still in good shape, without bits of rubber rotting off from wear and tear. You don’t want the tire falling apart during its second career as a swing.

3. Drill holes in the bottom of the tire

To prevent rainwater from accumulating inside the tire, drill a few holes through the tread at the point hanging closest to the ground.

Gravity will do the rest, allowing rainwater to drain through the holes and escape to the ground below.

4. Secure tire to branch with rope or chain

Just as you were careful to choose an appropriate branch for your tire swing, don’t skimp on the quality of the tire support.

Use a sturdy chain or rope to support the swing. If you choose rope, make sure it’s at least 3/4 inches thick and made of a weatherproof material that won’t disintegrate over time.

Classic bowline knots can be used for tying the rope to the tire and branch. Always remember safety first when constructing and using your tire swing.

Have fun!

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