The Best Of Both - How To Lay Grass Mats With The Realism Of Static Grass - Model Railway Engineer

The Best Of Both – How To Lay Grass Mats With The Realism Of Static Grass

4 comments 4 Intermediate 4 Comments

How to lay model railway grass matsWant to quickly add grass to large areas of your railway using grass mats AND get the realism of scenic grass without the cost? 
If you’re thinking of moving up from just have some track, adding fields and grass is a common first step.

And to get started, grass mats – such as the Busch Field and River Mat or the Woodland Scenics 25″ x 33″ Grass Mat – are popular, cheap, and easy options. They cover large areas, quickly, and provide a great base on and around which more scenery such as trees can be added to bring life to your railway.

Fitting them around railway track however can be challenging but doesn’t have to be. This video shows how to do it.

Adding Realism

One problem with grass mats however is that the resulting expanse of similar colour and texture can look flat and artificial. Here are three simple techniques to overcome this.

1. Add Hills
Putting some scrunched up newspaper under the mat in various places, simulating small hills, adds depth to the surface and makes it look far more realistic. I’ve done this several times and it’s surprising how much of a difference it can make.

2. Grow Some Trees
I’ve written before about how many model railways miss a trick by not having trees or have too few. You should have trees a plenty. If you’re using grass mats however they’re even more important as they’ll break up the view. See my previous post on model railway trees and how to make trees on a budget if this is something you’d like to try on your layout.

3. Sprinkle Static Grass On Top
At first thought the idea of adding static grass or scatter to a grass mat may seem stupid. After all, one the key benefits of a grass mat is that it can cover a large area for far less than if you use static grass flock so why I am now saying use both.

The key is that if you use a grass mat first you then only need a sprinkling of static grass and doing so will completely change the look and feel of your landscape. You get the convenience and speed of grass matting with the realism of static grass.

This is what has been done in the above video and you can see the difference. There’s a close up at 4 minutes, 35 seconds into the video. Take a look, it’s surprising however different it looks.

> This post is one of my super series on model railway basics which covers everything you need to know in simple jargon free language.



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  1. Glynne T Bowsher - August 14, 2016

    Please can you tell me what ‘glue’ to use to bond the BUSCH grass mats to a plywood base?

  2. Laurie Fergusson - January 16, 2017

    Hi,
    Whats the best glue to use on grass mats?

    • Hi Laurie, I had an colleague who used wall paper paste but personally I’d use a PVA water mix. Hope this helps. Andy

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