Get the kids away from the electronics and out in the fresh air by installing a tire swing in your backyard. Tire swings have been around forever because they’re fun for any age and they're inexpensive to make.
The iconic tire swing is a wonderful slice of Americana that evokes childhood memories of simpler times and a lot of backyard fun.
It's just a rope and a tire, right? Well, it is and it isn't. You need to make sure you pick the proper tree, limb, rope and, of course, tire.
The best choice is a hardwood tree, such as an oak or maple. A softwood tree, such as pine, isn't going to cut it because the limbs are too “springy.” Yes, I'm sure you've seen many a tire swing tied to a pine, but let's go for the best option possible here.
After you've picked the tree, let's whittle down further to the proper limb. You want one that will give you enough height to swing, but one that's not too tall with which to work. Try something that's around the 7- or 8-foot level. Now, make sure it's at least 6 inches in diameter. Not good at geometry? Measure around the limb — you're looking for 19 inches or more in circumference.
Note: Make sure you have a sturdy stepladder and an assistant when tying the rope to the limb.
A final tip on the limb: Select a spot for hanging the tire swing that's at least 3 feet from the trunk of the tree.
Select a rope that is at least 3/4-inch in diameter. You'll have a lot of choices from that point on, but if you're looking for a natural fiber look, something that is resistant to sunlight, heat and abrasion (you're wanting it to last, right?), then manila is your choice.
Check the label to be sure, but generally manila rope has a working load limit of 695 pounds. You can certainly find higher load limits with twisted polypropylene (1,090 pounds and about 15% more per foot), or twisted nylon and polyester (1,420 pounds about 80% more per foot), but you'll spend a good bit more and not have quite the resistance features as manila in the elements. Get plenty of rope — 15 to 20 feet — because you certainly don't want to be short any rope. A good rule of thumb is to set the bottom of the tire at least 12 to 18 inches from the ground.
If cost isn't an issue, you can simply buy a single new tire. But realistically, a used tire is what you're after. There are used tire shops that will sell you a single tire. You can also try chain tire stores to see if you can buy one. This will depend on the chain's policy. You can try junkyards or pull-a-part type places as well. And luck may have it that you spot a tire at a garage sale or flea market.
Make sure the tire is in decent shape without large fissures and cracks. Also look out for thin tread where the reinforcing wires may be revealed, a definite issue to avoid.