What Is Garden Twine Used For? (7 Awesome Uses and 3 Types)


If you have heard other gardeners talking about twine, but never used it yourself, you are missing out.  Even if you have used twine in the garden, there are probably some uses that you aren’t aware of.

So, what is garden twine used for?  Garden twine can be used for tying and supporting plants, such as tomatoes.  Garden twine can also be used to make straight lines for planting rows and to separate areas of your garden.  In addition, twine can be used for hanging garlic, onions, or herbs to dry.  Twine can even be used to train branches on fruit trees.

There are plenty of uses for twine, and there are few different kinds to choose from.  Let’s look at all the ways you can use twine, how to decide which type to use, and then we’ll answer some questions about twine.

What Is Garden Twine Used For?

According to Wikipedia, “twine is a light string or strong thread composed of two or more smaller strands or yarns twisted, and then twisted together.”

twine
Twine has many uses in the garden, including supporting and tying plants.

Twine is often made of hemp, sisal, or jute.  Less commonly, twine can be made from wool, cotton, or coconut coir.

For more information, check out this article on twine from Wikipedia.

Garden twine has many uses, including: managing sections of the garden before the season, supporting plants during the season, and hanging produce after harvest.

Twine For Tying and Supporting Plants

Twine is widely used by many gardeners for supporting plants.  Many crops, including tomatoes and peppers, can fall over in the wind if they grow too tall without support, or if their fruit becomes too heavy.

One common method of supporting plants is by using stakes.  A stake is driven into the ground near each plant, and twine is used to tie the plant to the stake at intervals as it grows taller.

tomato stakes
Tomatoes tied to stakes using twine have less chance of falling over or being damaged by wind.

Another method of supporting plants is by using a trellis.  One way to do this is to use twine to make a “rope trellis”.

First, drive two stakes into the ground, and then stretch a length of twine between them.  Tie the twine to both stakes, and repeat this every 6 inches, going up the stakes as high as you need.

Then, your plants can climb the twine trellis as they grow.  The best part is that you can make the trellis as wide as necessary to accommodate your plants.

There are other options besides twine for building a trellis. For more information, check out my article on trellises.

Since you will need to retie tomatoes and other plants every season, it might not make sense to use long-lasting twine for this purpose.

For more information, check out my article on how to support tomatoes.

Twine For Making Straight Lines For Rows Of Plants

When planning out your garden before the season begins, you will probably want to separate your plot into sections.  You probably also want straight lines between points, right?

The best way to do this is to drive stakes into the corners of the sections in your garden.  Then, stretch a length of twine between two stakes, and tie the twine to both stakes.

For more ideas, check out my article on what garden stakes are used for.

You can use the same principle to make sure that your rows are straight when you begin sowing seeds or planting seedlings.  Leaving the twine in place also makes it easier to see where you have planted seeds, so that you don’t accidentally step on them.

You can even use tall stakes and add more lengths of twine as the season progresses, to give your plants support.

Twine For Hanging Produce

After the growing season is over and you have harvested your produce, you may want to hang some of it to dry.  Garlic, onions, and herbs are all things that store better and last longer when dried out.

yellow onions
You can use twine to hang your onions out to dry at the end of the season.

To do this with twine, all you need to do is hang a “main branch” of twine from a beam.  Then, tie shorter lengths of twine to this one and tie your produce to these shorter lengths of twine.

Twine For Training Branches On Fruit Trees

Twine can also be used to train branches on fruit trees.  Often, growers will want to encourage branches on young fruit trees to grow a certain way, to form a pattern of branches.

pear tree
You can use twine for espalier to train the branches of fruit trees.

This method, known as espalier training, uses a trellis system to support branches and to encourage growth according to the gardener’s wishes.

For more information, check out this article on fruit tree pruning and training from Washington State University.

Twine For Tying Straw Bales

Twine can also be used to tie straw bales if you have large acreage and grow straw for your own animals or to sell to neighbors.  You can also use twine to tie together bundles of other crops, such as cornstalks.

straw bale
Twine is often used for baling straw or hay.

Did you know you can also use straw bales for growing plants? For more information, check out my article on growing potatoes in straw bales.

Twine For Hanging Planters

You can use twine to hang planters in your garden, or to turn an ordinary pot into a hanging one.  If you wanted to try growing tomatoes upside down, but started seeds in an ordinary pot, this might be a way to do it!

Twine For Hanging Garden Tools

You can also tie the handles of your garden tools with twine and tie a loop at the other end of the twine.  Then, you can hang the tools by the loop from a nail in your shed or greenhouse.

Types of Twine (Which To Use In The Garden)

There are many different types of twine, and each varies in thickness and strength.  Three common materials used to make twine are:

  • Hemp
  • Sisal
  • Jute

Let’s look at each type of twine in more detail and see when each one is best for your needs.

Hemp Twine

Hemp twine is a durable twine made from natural plant fibers. It is a strong and versatile type of twine that resists rotting.

What Is Hemp Twine Made Of?

Hemp twine is made from the tough outer bark of the hemp plant. The fibers are twisted together to make thin yarn, and multiple yarns are twisted together to make twine.

twine
Hemp twine is made from one of the strongest plant fibers in the world, derived from cannabis.

According to Wikipedia, hemp is a strain of the Cannabis sativa plant species. Hemp was one of the first plants that was spun into fibers thousands of years ago.

This particular strain of cannabis is grown specifically for many industrial uses, including:

  • twine
  • rope
  • clothing
  • shoes
  • paper

What Is Hemp Twine Used For?

Hemp grows fast and is one of the strongest natural fibers available. This makes it a great choice for twine if you want to support heavy plants or objects.

Hemp twine is used for:

  • building a twine trellis for plants with heavy fruit (such as tomatoes)
  • training fruit tree branches (espalier)
  • coastal gardening (near salt water)

You can find hemp twine at Ace Hardware.

Is Hemp Twine Biodegradable?

Hemp twine is biodegradable, but it takes a long time to decompose. In fact, it can take years for hemp twine to biodegrade.

Hemp resists breaking down in the presence of bacteria or ultraviolet light. This makes it more durable and increases its lifespan outdoors.

Is Hemp Twine Waterproof?

Treated hemp twine is waterproof as long as it has been treated (such as with tar or a fungicide). Left untreated, hemp twine will absorb water and rot over time.

If you are growing an organic garden, you might want to look for hemp twine that is not treated with fungicide or oils.

Hemp resists breaking down in the presence of salt water, more so than other natural fibers. This makes it a good choice for gardening if you live near the ocean.

Sisal Twine

Sisal twine is a strong and durable twine. However, it is not quite as strong as hemp twine.

What Is Sisal Twine Made Of?

Sisal twine is made from the tough fiber of sisal (Agave sisalana). According to Wikipedia, this species of Agave is native to southern Mexico.

The branches of this Agave species look like swords. Their branches are processed into a stiff fiber to make a variety of products, including:

  • twine
  • rope
  • carpets
  • mattresses
  • paper

What Is Sisal Twine Used For?

Sisal twine breaks down faster than hemp twine, and it stretches. This makes it more appealing for uses where we don’t want the twine to last for more than a season.

jute twine
Sisal twine is not as strong as hemp twine, but it is still a tough fiber. Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ficelle_de_Sisal_-_1.jpg

Sisal twine is used for:

  • baling straw or hay
  • tying plants (such as tomatoes) to support stakes
  • marking off rows with straight lines (tie opposite ends to stakes in the ground)
  • separating areas of your garden

You can find a roll of sisal twine at Johnny’s Selected Seeds.

Is Sisal Twine Biodegradable?

Sisal twine is biodegradable within a year if untreated. However, treated sisal twine may take longer to break down.

If kept dry in storage, you can use leftover sisal twine for next year’s garden.

Is Sisal Twine Waterproof?

Sisal twine is waterproof if it is treated. However, sisal twine can absorb water, which makes it heavy and more prone to mildew and rotting.

If you are growing an organic garden, look for unoiled sisal twine (sisal twine that has not been treated with oil).

Just like hemp twine, sisal twine is also resistant to deterioration in saltwater.

Jute Twine

Jute twine is an affordable type of twine. However, it is not as strong as hemp or sisal twine.

What Is Jute Twine Made Of?

Jute twine is made from jute fibers, which comes from the outer skin of flowering plants in the Corchorus genus. According to Wikipedia, jute is a long, soft, shiny vegetable fiber that can be spun into coarse, strong threads.

Jute is used to make:

  • twine
  • rope
  • matting
  • cloth
  • sacks

What Is Jute Twine Used For?

Jute twine is a common and affordable type of twine, but not as strong as other types. This makes it useful for projects where a large amount of twine is needed, and where weaker twine is acceptable.

hemp twine
Jute twine is not as strong as sisal or hemp, but it is the most cost-effective material.

Jute is used for:

  • crafts
  • tying plants (such as tomatoes) to support stakes
  • marking off rows with straight lines (tie opposite ends to stakes in the ground)
  • separating areas of your garden

You can find a roll of jute twine a Planet Natural.

Is Jute Twine Biodegradable?

Jute twine is biodegradable, and will decompose quickly if untreated. It probably will not last as long as hemp or sisal twine.

Jute fiber is susceptible to brittleness and shredding. You may also see jute twine turn yellow in sunlight.

Jute twine that is treated with an oil product will last longer and resist water damage. However, if you are growing an organic garden, you will want to look for untreated jute twine.

Is Jute Twine Waterproof?

Jute twine is waterproof if treated. However, without treatment, jute twine is susceptible to rapid breakdown in wet or humid conditions.

Untreated jute twine will absorb water if it gets wet. This will make it heavy and more susceptible to bacteria and mold.

Its strength decreases when it gets wet, and bacteria may decompose jute twine more quickly in humid climates.

Common Questions About Twine

There are a couple of common questions about twine that need to be addressed, so let’s answer them as best we can.

Can Twine Get Wet?

Most untreated twine will decompose faster if it gets wet, due to bacterial or mold growth.  Some twine is treated with oil-based chemicals or fungicides.

twine breaking down
Untreated twine that gets wet will eventually break down due to bacteria or mold.

These treatments protect twine from water damage and increase its resistance to bacteria and mold growth. However, these treatments may contain nasty chemicals, which you may not want in an organic garden (or in any garden, for that matter).

To keep your twine dry, store it in your garage, shed, or greenhouse. Never leave twine out in the garden in the rain and soil.

Why Does My Twine Smell?

Your twine may have been treated with rodent repellent and antibacterial or anti-fungal treatments.  These treatments will keep the twine intact during shipping and will increase its lifespan when used outdoors in your garden.

However, these treatments may also cause an unpleasant odor when you open a package of twine.  If you have an organic garden and are worried about these chemicals, it is best to call the manufacturer and ask what was used to treat the twine.

Conclusion

Now you know all about the different types of twine and how you can use them in your garden.  You also have some guidance on how to choose which type of twine to use.

I hope you found this article helpful – if so, please share it with someone who can use the information.

If you want to read some of my most popular posts, check out the “Best of GreenUpSide” page here.  Enjoy!

~Jonathon

jonathon.david.madore

Hi, I'm Jon. Let's solve your gardening problems, spend more time growing, and get the best harvest every year!

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