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Despite years and years spent in Girl Scouts, I never mastered the art of knot tying. Sheepshank, bowline, fisherman’s hitch — no matter which one I attempted, the end result was always something that resembled a very large, critically injured spider. So this week, when I needed a bamboo trellis along one end of a raised bed, I tried to think of ways to avoid lashing anything together.

The solution? Nylon zip ties, officially known as cable ties. They are durable, weatherproof, and can last for years. They are also cheap — around $3 for a package of 50 — and if you can’t find them in your local hardware store, you can get them at Amazon. (The traditional material for this purpose, waxed twine, starts around $10 per roll and requires six feet of twine for each knot.) I used 8″ black ties, which fit nicely around thumb-thick stalks of bamboo with a couple of inches left over to pull tight and snip off. They look like this:

One more tip: be sure to have your bamboo beagle-tested for strength and durability.