Is garden twine biodegradable? (3 types of garden twine)

This article shall elucidate the question of the biodegradability of garden twine.

It shall also comprehensively cover areas that include:

  • Applications of garden twine.
  • Types of garden twines.
  • The materials used to make garden twines.
  • The eco-friendliness of garden twine.

Is garden twine biodegradable?

Yes, some garden twines are biodegradable while others are non-biodegradable. The biodegradability of garden twine by far and large is determined by the material used to make the twine.

Garden twines made from naturally occurring organic materials such as cotton are biodegradable while those made from synthetic materials are not.

What is biodegradation?

Biodegradation is the breakdown of organic matter by microorganisms, such as bacteria and fungi into the water, carbon dioxide, methane, and minerals. Heat energy is produced in the process.

Biodegradation occurs in three distinct stages: biodeterioration, bio-fragmentation, and assimilation.

Biodeterioration is the first stage of biodegradation that involves abiotic factors such as light, UV radiation, and water to help in the weakening of the structure of organic substances.

Bio-fragmentation is the second stage that involves the physical breakdown of organic matter into small particles, this is due to the biodeterioration of the organic matter in the first stage.

Assimilation is the last stage of biodegradation. It involves the bacteria and the fungi taking up the minerals and small biomass produced by the previous two stages into their biological systems.

The minerals are used as a source of energy and carbon for the synthesis of cells and tissues.

Biodegradation can occur in the presence or absence of oxygen. When biodegradation involves the microorganisms using oxygen, the process is called aerobic biodegradation.

Aerobic biodegradation produces carbon dioxide, water, and small biomass. Heat energy is also produced in the process. Aerobic biodegradation occurs very fast but it is not very efficient.

When biodegradation occurs in the absence of oxygen, it is called anaerobic biodegradation. The products of anaerobic biodegradation include water, carbon dioxide, and small biomass. In addition to these products, methane gas is also produced. Heat energy is released during the breakdown. 

Anaerobic biodegradation occurs slowly but is more efficient than aerobic biodegradation.

Biodegradation can be affected by several factors such as water, light, temperatures, the bioavailability of a molecule, and pH.

Water helps in the biodeterioration and mechanical fragmentation of substances, increasing the surface area for microbial degradation.

Light emits radiations that help in the biodeterioration and bio-fragmentation of organic matter. UV radiation is the most effective radiation. 

Temperature affects the rate of biodegradation. Some microorganisms are very active in high temperatures while others are active in low temperatures. The optimum temperatures for the microorganisms increase the rate of biodegradation.

Bioavailability is the availability of an organic substance to microorganisms. Highly concentrated organic matter has high bioavailability and this increases the rate of biodegradation.

pH is the measure of acidity or basicity of a substance. Some microorganisms are very active in acidic pH while others are active in neutral or alkaline pH. Optimum pH increases the rate of biodegradation.

What are the uses of garden twine?

Garden twine is a light string that is made from strands of yarns twisted together. It  is used in the garden or fields for various purposes that include:

Typing and supporting plants.

Twine is widely used to tie and support plants. Many types of crops such as tomatoes, peppers, and capsicum can fall over when blown up by strong winds. This is because these plants can grow too long to support their fruits.

Fruits such as tomatoes are supported by making stakes. A stake of fruits is pulled near the ground and twine is used to tie the plant at stake intervals to prevent the fruits from falling.

Another way of supporting the crops is by tying them to a trellis line. A twine is tied on one end to a plant stalk and the other end to a trellising line, say a wire, some meters above the ground.

As the crops grow taller, it follows the twines which support them.

Making straight lines for rows of plants.

When preparing the land, the land can be divided into plots by using twines. Stakes or posts are put at different corners and twine tied around to divide the land.

During the sowing of seeds or transplanting of seedlings, twines can be used to make straight rows. Twines are tied from one end of the garden to another in a straight line, and seeds or seedlings are planted along the length of the twines.

Hanging of farm produce.

Some crops require more time to completely dry. Drying is an essential practice in farms that prevents the spoilage of farm produce.

After harvesting, twines can be tied in the garden around a beam or post and be used to hand crops such as garlic, onions, and herbs for them to dry.

Training branches on fruit trees.

Sometimes farmers may wish to have a certain number of branches from their trees, mostly the fruit trees.

To achieve this, twines are used to train young branches to grow in specific directions by tying them using twine and directing the twine towards the direction of choice. This process is called espalier training.

Tying straw bales and making hays.

Twines are used to tie bales of straw that have been harvested and need to be stored as animal feed.

Harvesting and tying of hays is also a practice that uses twines. 

Hanging planters.

This is a common practice in urban setups, mostly in Africa. Twines are used to tie planting pots or cans on the house balconies. Crops such as kales, tomatoes, and chilies are planted in these hanging pots.

What are the materials used to make garden twines?

There are different types of twines depending on the types of materials from which they are made.

The most commonly used materials include:

  • Sisal.
  • Hemp.
  • Jute.

Other materials include cotton and plastics.

Sisal twine.

This is twine that is made from sisal fiber of the species Agave sisalana. It is a strong and durable twine.

The branches of sisal plants are processed into stiff fibers that make products such as ropes, carpets, mattresses, paper, and twine.

Sisal twine breaks down faster as compared to hemp twine. It is also more elastic. Gardeners who do not want long-lasting twines would prefer sisal twine.

Sisal twine is used for baling straw or hay, tying and trellising crops, marking off rows in a garden, separating plots in a garden, and sealing sacks containing cereals.

Sisal twine absorbs water if left untreated and this makes it susceptible to attack by mildew and fungi.

Sisal twine is natural and is highly biodegradable.

Hemp twine.

Hemp twine is made from the fiber of a hemp plant ( a plant of the cannabis species). It is resistant to rotting and is therefore highly durable.

Hemp fiber can be used to make twines, ropes, garments, shoes, and paper.

In gardens, hemp twine is used to make trellising lines for crops with heavy fruits, training fruit tree branches and gardening near coastal areas as hemp fiber is resistant to salts.

Hemp twine is biodegradable, although it takes a while longer than sisal or jute fiber to degrade. If left untreated, hemp fiber can absorb a lot of water and eventually rot 

Jute twine.

Jute twine is made from a vegetable fiber that is obtained from the outer covering of flowering plants in the genus Corchorus.

Jute twine is not as strong and durable as sisal and hemp twines.

Jute fiber is used to make twine, ropes, matting, clothes, and sacks.

Jute twine is used in gardens to tie plants, mark off rows, and separate plots in gardens. Jute is weaker than hemp and sisal and is therefore used in bulk or in applications that do not require tough fiber.

Jute twine is susceptible to shredding and brittleness. It is also prone to oxidation by UV radiations and usually turns yellow when exposed to sunlight.

Jute is highly biodegradable because of its high susceptibility to microbial attack.

Is garden twine eco-friendly?

Yes, twines are eco-friendly. According to a study, twines made from flax and jute are 100% biodegradable and compostable.

 Most twine is made from hemp, jute, and sisal. These are organic fibers that are susceptible to microbial attack and therefore will not pollute the environment.


This article has answered the question of the biodegradability of garden twine.

It has also covered some more areas such as:

  • Applications of twines.
  • Types of twines and their properties.
  • Materials used to make twine.
  • Eco-friendliness of twine.

For any questions or comments please use the comment section below.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): is garden twine biodegradable?

Does garden twine decompose?

Yes, garden twine is decomposable. Garden twine is made from natural materials such as hemp, sisal, and jute which are susceptible to microbial degradation.

Is twine string biodegradable?

Yes, twine string is biodegradable. Twine strings made from organic fibers such as hemp, sisal, and jute are susceptible to bacterial and fungal attacks and are therefore biodegradable.

Is cotton twine biodegradable?

Yes, cotton twine is biodegradable. Cotton fiber is a natural fiber derived from cotton plants. Cotton is easily broken down by fungi and bacteria and is therefore biodegradable.


Jonathon David Madore. What Is Garden Twine Used For? ( 7 Awesome Uses and 3 Types).

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Is Twine Compostable? ( And Why It Might Be A Good Idea). An article on Wiggly Wisdom.

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