Will rope last if it’s left in the garden?

Rope in the garden.

Is it ever really a good idea?

Fancy decking rope, rope fences and lawn edgings may all look very nice when first installed. But for anyone living here in the UK – with its changeable  weather – it’s natural to wonder just how long it’ll last before it starts to deteriorate. 

There’s no getting away from the fact that anything you leave outside for a prolonged period will be susceptible to the elements – and eventually show signs of wear and tear.

But the good news is most garden ropes are resilient enough to last for many years outside, without causing too many issues or needing to be replaced. To get the most value for money and ensure outdoor ropes stay in the best possible condition (for as long as possible), there are just a few things you should bear in mind.

Some ropes are better suited to the outdoor life than others 

Choosing the right garden rope is the key to long-term success.

For outdoor use, synthetic ropes are typically recommended – particularly synthetic hemp. Made from spun polypropylene fibres, this is one of the toughest options available. Strong, weatherproof and UV resistant. It can be left outside throughout the seasons and, in 10+ years, it’s likely to look just as good and will be doing its job just as well. 

Some natural fibre ropes can, perhaps surprisingly, also be a good option. 

Yes, they are more vulnerable to water damage and will start to break down quicker than synthetic ropes – but that doesn’t mean they should be ruled out. Contrary to popular belief, they can last for many, many years in an outdoor environment – combining their pleasant traditional appearance with a level of durability that can stand up to the elements. 

Manila, in particular, is a great natural rope for outdoors. It may be made from 100% natural fibres, but as it contains natural oils, it’s better suited to long-term garden use than most other natural options – demonstrating inherent strength and flexibility, excellent durability, resistance to UV rays and good knot retention. 

Some ropes will be prone to shrinkage 

In an ideal world, to maximise the lifespan of garden ropes, it’s best to keep them dry.

Here in the UK, thanks to the varied weather, that can be more of a pipedream than a reality. So if you can, try to install them in a sheltered area, where they’ll be protected against the harsh elements. If that isn’t possible, it’s important to take ‘shrinkage’ into consideration. 

This is particularly pertinent for natural fibre options. These tend to be hygroscopic, which means, they readily soak up any water and moisture and shrink when they become wet or damp. To account for this, and ensure your ropes fare as well as possible in an outdoor environment, you’ll need to add 10-15% to your required length.

It’s also worth putting the ropes ‘in situ’ in your garden and leaving them for several days – allowing enough time for the shrinkage to occur naturally, before securing them in place. 

All garden ropes need a little TLC 

Whether you opt for a synthetic or natural fibre product – to keep them looking nice and ensure they last as long as possible, all garden ropes will need to be cleaned from time to time. 

A quick vacuum is usually all it takes to get rid of surface dust. Then, to tackle any dirt, grime or stains, it’s best to use mild soap and cold water to wash the rope by hand. Just rinse it well afterwards and always leave it to dry naturally – away from direct sunlight if you can.

A little care and maintenance won’t take long. But it can make a big difference – to the long-term appearance of your outdoor ropes, their ongoing condition and overall longevity. 

Buy garden rope that’s made to last

No matter how cold and wet the weather conditions, most garden ropes are tough enough to hold up against the elements and a significant level of wear and tear. Making them a worthwhile long-term investment, that will look great and last for many years in your outdoor space. 

Of course, one of the easiest ways to guarantee they go the distance is to buy a high-quality product from a reputable supplier – such as RopesDirect. Then, simply choose your rope material wisely – opting for something robust and resilient – and look after them well!