Add grass to layout? John shows us how

Here’s how to add grass to your layout – a big thanks to John:

“Hi Al,

John Arthur here – I haven’t shared with you in a while and thought this might be a good time to get back in touch.

When I was last in touch, I shared how I made some homemade scenery materials from coir fiber and rubberized horsehair.

Working right next to that area, I recently added an open grassy scene with a creek passing under the tracks, the whole of which serves to visually separate the yard from staging and an industrial switching area.

I used a variety of materials including a lot of teddy bear fur, Heki wild grass, a little bit of Silflor pasture and lawn mats, Polak flower material, and scenery mats, grass tufts, and thicket materials from Martin Wellburg. They all help to add grass to your layout.

The trees I made are are SuperTrees, from Scenic Express.

I scratch built the culvert from styrene and brass pipe, and poured the creek with Envirotex resin over top of some river rock material and darker paint for deeper areas.

Below are some pictures of the progression and a video of trains running through the completed scene.

I hope you enjoy!


before adding grass to model railroad

add grass to HO scale

add grass to layout HO scale

base color before adding grass

adding stones to ditch before grass

ditch in grass

added grass to HO scale with backdrop

HO scale model railroad backdrop

If you want to see John’s first post, it’s here (and there also a silly offer on that page – you can still grab it if you want to).

A big thanks to John – an excellent piece on how to add grass to your layout.

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming.

And if today is the day you get started on your layout, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

PPS More HO scale train layouts here if that’s your thing.

34 Responses to Add grass to layout? John shows us how

  1. Regan says:

    Beautiful Craftsmanship I would like to see layouts with O Gauge!
    Thank you and again workmanship.

  2. Mike Street says:

    Good job John, looks really great, the trees, the grass, the culvert, altogether making a fantastic scene.
    Mike S

  3. Peter Waring says:

    A really great scene, so realistic and detailed, looking forward to seeing the completed layout. Regards Peter…

  4. John says:

    Outstanding work
    Looks like what you would see in the south
    Great backdrop sky
    Exceptional craftsmanship

  5. I really enjoy the new scenery on your layout. I hope to see more in the future. Seeing your work is assisting me on my layout. Thank you

  6. Greg Schaefer says:

    At about 1:14 in the video, you can see the reflection of the train on the surface of the creek. Doesn’t get any more realistic than that. You do real nice work, John.

  7. Douglas D. Gard says:

    As good as I have ever seen. Outstanding job.

  8. Allen Rosenberg says:

    Wow. Outstanding detail. Your attention to realism doesn’t get any better. Thank you for sharing.

  9. THOMAS says:

    WHERE ARE THE TRAINS ? These little Hollywood stages are nice but does anyone have trains that actually run ? It has been rare to see a train video !

  10. Robert Brady says:

    Bravo well done. Love the clear water over muddy and cobbly bottom. Looks more realistic.
    The Critic

  11. Very impressive and so realistic… great job…. 👍
    Richard of Oklahoma

  12. Charles Maxim says:

    John, as much as the scenery was truly excellent, I was thrilled to see the parade of trains and equipment. I am however going to have to report you to OSHA as two of the Seaboard locomotives are running without handrails. That’s very dangerous for your N scale crews. LOL.
    All joking aside, beautiful work, great trains.
    Chuck in NY

  13. James says:

    Yeppers,great landscape!!

  14. Dr. J-Pak says:

    O.M.G. – I have been following Alastair’s site for years, trying to convince myself that I should take up this hobby. I am afraid my skills are on the level of a 3 year old – or maybe a three year old would be better. On the other hand, your skills are unbelievable. The vegetation growing along the tracks is so realistic I bet most people looking at a photo would not be able to tell it isn’t real. The stream is fantastic too. Best I have seen. Great job.

  15. Erick says:

    Pretty kool.!!! I am going to have to try that too.

  16. Jim Robinson says:

    I’m really impressed with the grassy area and the underbrush at the edge of the wooded area. Great work!

  17. Bernie Sallee says:

    Great video. Love the scenery.

  18. Bob From Towson says:

    John, Please give some info on the clouds background>….

  19. ARTHUR J ROMANO says:

    One would be hard pressed to look from afar, as to the reality of what you’re looking at. Fine work.

  20. Ken of Lakewood Shores says:

    O.M.G. So realistic I thought the clouds were moving. What a great job.

  21. Michael Childs says:

    Beautiful John. Great job!

  22. Julio Bird says:

    Absolutely beautiful work! No overcrowding with track adds to the realism.

  23. Gary M from Long Island says:

    John… what a beautiful realistic piece of scenery…….I am saving these pictures as a reminder and example of “how to” what model railroad scenery should look like. Thank you.

  24. George Niosi says:

    Hi I was proud of myself until I saw this. This is the best I have seen.
    Keep it up.

  25. Charles Eyster says:

    John, simply outstanding or should I say? your scenery stands out the best! Absolutely phenomenally done. Any chance of showing how you developed the grassy areas? The culvert is fantastic. I’m not a fan of the clean clear water, maybe because I’m from New Jersey? Nothing looks that clean here, Delaware a River to the Delaware Bay, to the Ocean to the NYC rivers. Need some browning there! Smiles!

  26. Rod Mackay says:

    Beautiful, well done.

  27. Stephen Dean says:

    What an excellent example of scenery. It looks so real.

  28. Timothy Morlok says:

    John, I agree with all the above comments, but as a former railroader I did notice one thing. There are no throw rods connecting the switch points to the ground throw (non- functional) switch machines. The rods could be represented by a solid piece of wire painted black and connected to the points with other end free to “float” in a groove under the switch machines. Just an idea. Keep up the great work.

  29. Cary E Price says:

    Dare I say looks more beautiful then the real thing. Picture perfect! So glad you went the extra mile on the lighting, really makes your talent show. Great job!
    Cary in KY

  30. David Schaffner says:

    One of the best I have seen.. Love the slow moving trains to give it a more realistic feel, and the backdrop of trees is really amazing. How did you do that? I love the culvert and running water and the grassy knoll with the brush growing out of control…You are a master at landscaping, and you have given me so many ideas…Is the wooded area behind the culvert a backdrop and continuing mass of something you wouldn’t expect? Love it!

  31. Søren Lippert says:

    Best landscaping I have seen for years. VERY impressive – not even ‘false’ shadows on the backdrop! Expertly done. A detailed step-by-step video would be seriously welcome! Cheers, Soren (in Denmark)

  32. Larry Baucom says:

    Doesn’t anyone run the old 1800 steam engine trains? All I see is the diesel engine’s?

  33. ScenicsRme says:

    John, The best, most realistic scenery I have ever seen! The transition from foreground to background is seamless. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, more details /step by step on how you created your fields. Teddy Bear fur??? I’ve searched and found a wide range of products that could fit that description. Your source, length, shaggy or smooth, color? Do you paint or dye it? with what? I am still researching the other products you mentioned, how did you apply them? Where did you get your photo background? Please share!

  34. Jeff Frazier says:

    To John: WOWOWOWOW, Best Scenery EVER Sir!! OUTSTANDING, Thanks for the Tips!! To Al: I Love this Blog, Check it EVERY Morning, THANK YOU So much!! I live in a Veterans Home in California, No room For a Layout, ***** IT!! But I do Military Dioramas and the Tips on Detail & Scenery Work Great!!! Thank You so much, from one Muture Guy to Another, YOU are the Best!! Jeff Frazier ;-)))))

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