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 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.
Another method of supporting plants is 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 you like to accommodate 5, 10, or even more 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.
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.
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.
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.
What Kind Of Twine Should I Use In My Garden?
There are many different types of twine, of varying thickness and strength. Three common materials used to make twine are hemp, sisal, and jute. Let’s look at each one in a little more detail, and see when each one might be preferred.
According to Wikipedia, hemp is a strain of the Cannabis sativa plant species, grown specifically for industrial uses. It is a fast-growing plant, and one of the first to be spun into fibers thousands of years ago.
For more information, check out this article on hemp from Wikipedia.
Hemp is one of the strongest natural fibers, making it the best choice if you want twine to support heavy plants or objects. Hemp is resistant to deterioration due to ultraviolet light or bacteria.
Hemp is also resistant to deterioration due to salt water, making it a good choice for gardening if you live near the ocean. However, hemp twine must be treated with tar, or else it will absorb water and rot over time.
Treated hemp twine would be best used for creating a permanent support system (trellis or hanging twine system) for plants, or for training fruit tree branches as in espalier.
According to Wikipedia, sisal or Agave sisalana is a species of Agave native to southern Mexico. Its branches look like swords, and this can be processed into a stiff fiber to make products such as twine.
For more information, check out this article on sisal from Wikipedia.
Sisal twine is strong and durable, although perhaps not as strong as hemp. Sisal is also resistant to deterioration in saltwater, and it has the ability to stretch.
This makes sisal twine useful for tying tomatoes to stakes, since it ensures that the plants are not constricted by the twine. It would also be a good choice for separating areas of your garden or creating straight lines between stakes for planting rows.
According to Wikipedia, jute is a long, soft, shiny vegetable fiber that can be spun into coarse, strong threads. Jute fiber is used to make burlap, hessian, or gunny cloth.
For more information, check out this article on jute from Wikipedia.
Jute is not as strong as sisal or hemp, but it is far more cost effective. It is produced widely and has a variety of uses, including as twine.
Jute fiber does tend to be susceptible to brittleness and shredding. You may also see jute twine turn yellow in sunlight. Its strength decreases when it gets wet, and bacteria may decompose jute twine more quickly in humid climates.
Jute twine is biodegradable, and probably will not last as long as sisal or hemp twine. Therefore, jute twine is ideal for short-term projects, such as tying tomatoes or other plants for a single growing season.
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. Twine may sometimes be treated with chemicals that increase its resistance to bacteria and mold growth.
To keep your twine dry, store it in your garage, shed, or greenhouse, and don’t leave it out in the garden in the rain.
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 it will increase its lifespan when used outdoors in your garden.
However, it 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 inquire about what was used to treat the twine.
By now, you know all kinds of ways that you can use twine 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 have any questions or advice of your own about uses for twine in the garden, please leave a comment below.