QUESTION: What is garden twine used for? I’ve seen it at the garden center and don’t know how it would be used. — Lily T.
ANSWER: There are lots of different ways you can use twine in the garden. Before you know what kind of twine you should use, you need to know what you will be using it for, as the different types of gardening twine have different uses.
You can use gardening twine to hang baskets of plants and flowers. This will free up some extra space in your garden for other plants. You can also use twine to turn a regular container into a hanging container.
You can also hang harvested onions, garlic, and herbs with gardening twine. Start by hanging a length of twine horizontally. Then you can hang each item vertically from the main horizontal twine with smaller lengths of twine.
There is even a way to grow tomatoes upside down in a hanging planter. For more information, see our article How to Grow Tomatoes in an Upside Down Garden.
You can also use gardening twine to hang your gardening tools from a wall so they’re organized and close at hand. You may wish to use a fine width of gardening twine for this project. Tie a short length of twine to each tool and add a loop at the end to hang it from. Then you can use nails or hooks to hang the tools from their twine loops.
You can use twine to train the branches of fruit trees with a French technique called Espalier. Espalier training is a way to encourage a tree to grow flat against a wall, and it has dramatic visual results. Espalier training can take years to complete. There are several patterns you can use, including basket weave, candelabra, or cordon. Find out more at this YouTube video, called How to Espalier Fruit Trees:
You may not have heard of Kokedama string gardens, but they’re an excellent way to display some of your favorite plants with gardening twine. In a Kokedama string garden, the plant’s root ball is wrapped in moss, which in turn is wrapped with twine to create a custom container for the plant. You can see photos and find out how to create a Kokedama string garden at the Martha Stewart website.
If you grow straw, either for your own purposes or to sell, you’ll find that gardening twine works great for securing the bundles of straw or hay. You can also bundle some other garden crops with twine, such as cornstalks.
As you probably already know, some plants in the garden grow best with a stake, trellis, or other support system in place.
For staking, first insert your stake straight up into the ground near your plant. Then you’ll use the gardening twine to gently tie the plant to the stake. Make sure not to tie the plant too tight. If a loose tie is not sufficient, it’s better to add another stake and tie than it is to tie tightly. But if you must tie tightly, check on your plant often so you can loosen the knot as needed. As the plant grows, you can add twine higher up the stake to support the plant.
You can also use twine to make a trellis to support your plants. To make a twine trellis, start by inserting two stakes into the ground near your plant that needs some support. The stakes should be as tall as you want your trellis to be. Tie lengths of twine between the two stakes, pulled taut. Add more twine every six inches, going up to the top of your stakes. This makes a simple ladder trellis for your plants to grow on.
Some of the plants you work with are only meant to be in the garden for one season (such as beans). You won’t need the gardening twine you use with these plants to be as durable as if you were planning to keep the twine at work for years. You can use a cheaper, less durable gardening twine for these season-long projects. However, you do want to make sure to get a twine that will support heavier plants, like tomatoes, without snapping and breaking.
You can also use gardening twine to divide your garden into sections so that your plants will grow in straight rows. You may want to set the twine up as soon as you plant seeds so that you’ll be able to avoid stepping on the sprouting plants. The twine sections will also help you keep track of which plants you are growing where.
In addition to keeping plants separated, you can set up twine in this way just to ensure you’re digging and planting in a straight line. Then you can remove the twine after setting up your garden plot if you don’t have any further use for it.
Start by driving stakes into the corners of your garden plot. Tie a length of gardening twine between the two stakes, pulled taut so it stays above the ground. Then repeat this process, adding more stakes as needed, to create a grid of twine above your garden.
It’s important that the twine you use is durable but not so tough that it will cause damage to your plants. You’ll also want twine that is visually appealing, because it will be part of your garden. We’ll tell you what the different types of twine are used for, then you can find one that’s long enough, the right color, within your budget, and made of an appropriate material for how it will be used.
One of the choices you’ll need to make when you buy gardening twine is whether to use twine made of natural or synthetic materials. Natural materials that gardening twine is made of include coconut coir, cotton, flax, hemp, jute, sisal, silk, and wool.
Synthetic materials that gardening twine is made of include acrylic, nylon, and polypropylene. Some gardening twine is coated to make it stronger or to prevent it being easily damaged.
If you will be using your gardening twine to hang plants, you should choose a strong coated synthetic type to make sure it will last. If you will be using the twine to make a trellis or attach your plants to their stakes, you can choose either natural or synthetic twine.
Bear in mind that natural twines are more likely to stretch than synthetic twines. For some uses, this is a good thing, and in others it’s a bad thing. For example, if you’re supporting tomato plants, it helps to have a bit of stretch in your twine so the twine can move with the plant as it grows. But if you’re building a twine trellis or using twine to organize plants into rows, you’ll want it to stay taut and not stretch out. You may want to check reviews of the twine you’re considering buying to see whether people say it stretches or not, though twines made of natural fibers are more likely to have some capacity to stretch than synthetic twines.
Let’s take a look at the three most common types of gardening twine: hemp, sisal, and jute.
Hemp twine is one of the strongest and most durable options you can choose. It’s the perfect twine to use for supporting heavy plants, heavy containers, or heavy tools. You may wish to use twine for supporting heavy plants (like tomato plants) or for training the branches of fruit trees. It’s also an excellent choice if you are gardening in a coastal area, as it can stand up to the salt water in the air. Treated hemp twine will last even longer than untreated, but if you are growing an organic garden, look for twine that’s not treated with oils or fungicide.
Sisal is another twine option that’s strong and durable, though it is not quite as heavy duty as hemp twine. It does have some stretchiness to it, too. It’s the perfect choice for when you just need your twine to last a season or when stretchiness is important to you. Sisal twine works well for baling straw or hay, attaching plants to stakes, and organizing plants into rows or marking off zones of your garden. Sisal twine is also a good option to use in coastal areas because it resists salt water damage. Treated sisal twine will last longer than untreated sisal twine, which will break down within a year. However, gardeners growing organic gardens should choose unoiled sisal twine.
Jute is not quite as strong as hemp or sisal gardening twine, but it is an affordable option for short-term or low-impact projects. Especially if strength isn’t the number one consideration and you will be using a large amount of twine, jute is a good option for you. Jute works well for organizing plants, marking off areas in the garden, or tying plants to their support stakes. In addition to breaking down faster than hemp or sisal, jute twine is prone to shredding and becoming brittle after it’s been in the garden for a while. Treated jute twine will last longer than untreated, but if your garden is organic, you’ll need to go with the untreated option.
Once you’ve chosen between natural and synthetic gardening twine, you still need to choose the right color, length, thickness, and price.
Most gardening twine is a natural brown color that will fade into the background in your garden. This color of twine won’t be especially noticeable. There are also brightly colored options for gardening twine that will provide some contrast and make a statement peeking out from between your plants. Twine is also often offered in green so it will blend in with the greenery of your plants. Which color you choose is really up to you and your preferences.
The last thing you want when you’re working with gardening twine is to come up short and not have enough twine for the project you’re working on. For this reason, we recommend buying more than you think you need. You can always save the remainder for another project.
Gardening twines are available in different thicknesses to suit different projects. If your twine needs to be strong (like using it to support tomatoes), you’ll probably want to choose a thicker type of gardening twine. But for less demanding tasks, like organizing plants into rows, you can use a thinner twine.
Make sure that you purchase a long enough length of twine to complete your project. More is always better than too much. You don’t want to get halfway through your work to realize you need more twine, especially if you’re ordering online and won’t be able to get more right away.
If you have some gardening twine that isn’t heavy duty enough for your projects, there are less strenuous tasks you can use it for. You can use the twine to tie up cut flower arrangements in a visually appealing way or use it to wrap gifts.
This article has provided an introduction to using gardening twine, with information about how to choose the best twine for your project along with all the different ways you can put twine to use in your garden. Now all that’s left is for you to choose the kind of twine you can use and start working on your projects.