Wooly Twine in the Garden: You Can Spin it!

Four ways to use handspun twine in micro container gardens, full farmhouse gardens, or backyard orchards.

A. Sabine Schröder-Gravendyck Jun 17, 2024 - 6 min read

Wooly Twine in the Garden: You Can Spin it!  Primary Image

Double-coated fleeces have long hair that can be used in the garden. Photos by A. Sabine Schröder-Gravendyck

In addition to being a passionate handspinner, Dr. Sabine Schröder-Gravendyck is a naturalist and educator in the north of Germany. For years, she has been finding ways to put wool to work in natural spaces. She had so many great tips for using wool in gardening and landscaping that we’ve created a two-part series. This second article is about spinning for useful, outdoor uses. Find her first article on using unspun fleece as mulch, compost, and more here. Enjoy! —Spin Off Editors

Are you buying raw fleeces so you can enjoy the full sheep-to-finished-project process? If so, you have already been in touch (literally) with the range of different qualities most fleeces contain. Soft (but often chaffy) neck fleeces lead to cleaner and more consistent side sections . . . and then there is the britch. The wool from the lower leg and around the tail is often coarser, dirtier, and less likely to be saved by handspinners. Instead of discarding the parts of the fleece that aren’t suitable for spinning, consider using it in your garden.

Both typical spinning fiber and strong/harsh fiber can be spun into useful landscaping twine. It can—but doesn’t need to be—consistent. Playing with twist and thickness gives us different products that are convenient for many uses. Less twist results in soft tape, more twist makes stronger twine. Cabled yarns are especially sturdy and are abrasion resistant. These are fun yarns to spin whether you have a potted tomato plant on your patio or a full-scale farmhouse garden. (Find a tutorial here.)

A four-ply cabled yarn provides gentle support to keep the branches of a young apple tree at the right angle.

Left: Sabine’s staple twines and tapes (from top left): low-twist two-ply, felted crocheted chain of thick singles; a little leftover two-ply in a medium wool; two-ply in a course wool; fine, strong, two-ply outer-coat hair; (bottom) felted crocheted chain of very thick singles. Right: Cabled yarn made of coarse parts of a Coburger Fox Sheep fleece.

1. Wool to bind tomatoes, climbing roses, raspberries, and more

Wool is gentle and does not damage plants as might happen with other materials, which can easily cut into stems, causing wounds.

A tomato plant tied to a stabilizing stick with wool in a figure-eight.

2. Wool for fruit trees

In young fruit trees, a productive and healthy crown can be achieved with careful pruning and training. Strong cabled yarns are useful to shape the angle of branches. This secure binding doesn’t damage the bark, which is very important in preventing infection and diseases.

Training a young apple tree by holding branches in the right angle. Can you see Ouessant sheep grazing in the background?

3. Wool as a climbing aid and for transport

A thick twine can be tied from a wall or roof (or whatever is a reach) and knotted to a tomato stem or other plant that needs support as it grows. Also, these thick twines can be used when transporting plants. Tying the branches reduces volume and helps keep them safe.

Shrub in bare root state, ready for transport in early spring.

4. Wool to protect plants in construction areas

Binding branches together with woolen cables reduces the volume of shrubs or little trees; you can keep them out of the space needed for workers and machines. Woolen ropes don’t damage the bark (skin) of the woody plants.

A young tree, protected from nearby construction projects.

Soil to Soil

At the end of its lifetime, our useful woolen twine simply stays in the garden, degrading, releasing nutrients, feeding the soil, and returning to the natural cycle that created it.

Inspired to work with fleeces this summer? Here are a few resources to smooth your wooly path:
* “How I Wash Wool: A Practical Method” by Devin Helmen
* “The Great Fleece Makover” by Emonieiesha Hopkins
* “Navigating Online Fleece Sales: Tips for Buyers and Sellers” by Elizabeth Prose
* Three Bags Full: How to Select, Prepare, and Spin Great Fleece video with Judith MacKenzie

A. Sabine Schröder-Gravendyck, DVM, makes her home on Germany’s North Sea coast where she works as a naturalist and educator in sustainability and ecology. She is always looking for new ways to help people merge their personal spaces with nature. Learn more at