I don’t know what it is, but there’re very few things that say carefree summer days more to me than a tire swing. That’s probably why when we were trying to come up with images to represent the PLAY section of RYGblog that we landed on a tire swing. The crazy thing is, I didn’t have a tire swing growing up…and I really don’t have any memories of swinging on one…but there’s just something about a tire swing. It probably has something to do with the weightless feeling you get when you’re on one…the wind in your hair…the controlled thrill combined with the lulling cadence of swinging back and forth. Again, there’s just something about a tire swing that conjures up memories…perceived or real…of those carefree summer days.
So with that in mind…and my wanting to create those kinds of childhood memories for my girls… I went to work on surprising them with a tire swing when they returned from being out of town this past weekend. It was really very easy to do and once I had the few materials in hand it didn’t take very long at all.
What You’ll Need to Make a Tire Swing
- A nice sturdy limb
- A rope:
- You can use whatever kind of rope you want…as long as it’s strong enough to hold you and/or your kids…or multiples of your kids!
- I actually had a bunch of manila rope left over from a tree house project…so I used it…bonus for me – no additional cost!
- A tire:
- You can probably find one at a local tire store…and they will probably just give it to you.
- If at first you don’t succeed, keep calling around…you’ll find one. I did after just 2 calls…again, bonus for me – no additional cost!
- To bring these three things together:
- If the limb you’re using is way up in there, you’ll need some string and a beanbag of sorts that you can throw up & over the limb.
- You’ll need a drill and large drill bit to drill holes in the bottom of your tire to let the water run out…so that you don’t accumulate a bunch of funk inside your tire, creating the perfect mosquito breeding ground. I used a 3/8” bit…but I may need to go back with a larger one if the holes I’ve already made end up getting clogged too quickly.
How to Hang a Tire Swing
1. Drill Holes in the Tire:
- As I mentioned above, you don’t want water and leaves and bugs to form a nasty mess inside the tire cavity, so you’ll want to drill a few holes at the bottom of your tire. This will let the rain water drain out…keeping the leaves that do get in there dry…which is much nicer to remove than rotting wet ones.
- Note: Do this step first…when you can drill when your tire is firmly sitting on the ground. I didn’t drill my holes until the tire was already dangling…not giving me as much leverage to drill my holes.
- If you do drill first, just make sure that when you tie on your tire, that you position the holes at the bottom…for obvious reasons.
2. Get the Rope Up & Over the Limb:
- If your limb is within reach, this step is easy…just throw your rope up & over.
- If your limb is not within reach (as is the case for me), you’ll need to first get your beanbag and string up & over the limb. This may take a little bit of time, but be patient…you’ll eventually succeed:
- You’ll want to start out by tying your string around the beanbag…giving yourself enough string to go over the limb and back down to you.
- Then, instead of taking the beanbag and throwing it, take the string with the beanbag dangling about a foot below and whipping it up & over…you’ll get a great deal more distance that way.
- Once you have the string up & over your limb, simply tie your rope to the end of the string and then, using the other end of the string, pull your rope up & over the limb.
- Here are a few things not to use when installing your tire swing…I know, I learned the hard way:
- Don’t use tennis ball: It doesn’t have enough weight and after 100 attempts you’ll likely end up throwing your arm.
- Don’t use a rock: Although this is what I ended up using and it worked (had enough weight), having a sharp, heavy projectile hurling your way is not advisable. (Good thing Safety Girl Britt wasn’t around when I did this!!)
- Don’t use twine: Again, although I did use twine (it’s what I had easiest access to – I had just staked my tomatoes) because of its frayed texture, the twine tended to get easily caught up in the leaves of the tree. Which is why I now have a tennis ball hanging 30 feet above our tire swing. All that said, kite string would likely work much better.
3. Tie on the Tire:
- I’m neither a sailor nor a boy scout…so rather than doing a ton of granny knots that I’m certain would work their way loose (potentially right after I pushed Brownie into orbit…not good), I enlisted the help of my very handy neighbor. I’m not exactly certain exactly what knots he used, but our tire isn’t going anywhere…other than swinging back & forth.
- Note, because the limb that our tire swing is hanging from is way up there, I didn’t want to use a knot that slipped its way all the way up to the limb…otherwise, if I had to move the swing or tighten anything I’d have to rent a cheery-picker. So I simply bought enough rope so that the rope is just looped over the limb and all the tying happens at the tire itself. Having the rope doubled-over like this introduces the potential of the rope twisting around itself…but I think that just makes it a bit more fun.
- I have our swing about 2’ off the ground…giving the rope some room to stretch and making it so that Littlest One still needs someone to help her on and off the tire swing…which I’m good with for now.
- Based on the wisdom of my handy neighbor, we left a bit of extra rope at the end and wrapped it around itself – giving the girls something to hang on to and providing us some margin in case we needed to re-tie it in the future.
That’s it…it’s really that easy. All that’s left is the fun…and the many carefree memories to be made. And by the way, my girls (including Britt) were very surprised when they got home this weekend…receiving their new tire swing with jubilant squeals.
Oh…2 other things to mention:
- If your tire swing isn’t near your home, you might want to put a bench or a couple of chairs nearby so that there’s a nice place to rest after all the pushing you’ll for sure be doing…as well as a spot for the non-swingers to patiently wait their turns.
- Don’t wear flip-flops while pushing or swinging solo…again, I found out the hard way. Pushing someone when there is the slightest slope just doesn’t work in flaps. And the first time I tried our tire swing out…when no one was around, I launched one of my flip-flops about 50 feet into the woods when jumping on.
I hope this helps…and if you add a tire swing to your back yard, please pass along any helpful hints to the rest of us.