Best Static Grass Applicator for Model Railways in 2024

Photo of different static grass applicators reviewed in the article, includes WWS applicator and a e-bay insect killer variety,

Static grass applicators can help you create lush, realistic grass for your model railway layout, miniature landscape, or wargaming mini. In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about static grass applicators, from the different types available to which is the best models for price, features and overall use.

Static grass from Woodland Scenics, WW Scenics, and other manufacturers has revolutionized realistic ground cover for model railways, dioramas, and model making. When applied correctly, these tiny threads of static grass stand upright, creating an unparalleled effect of real grass and small plants. Static grass is far superior to the low-grade sawdust scatter materials that previous generations had to use.

However, getting static grass to look good is not as simple as sprinkling it over an area of the landscape. For the best results, an applicator is required. In this article, I explore static grass in more detail, look at the various types of applicators available and review the various models from budget to best to identify the best all-around static grass applicator. (There are also some tips at the end of this article to help you achieve the best results).

Article Shortcuts

What is static grass

Different types of static grass applicator

How much do static grass applicators cost

Applicators Reviewed

DIY Home made

The WWS Grand

The Take Cover Terrain applicator

Top tips for applying static grass

Conclusion: the best static grass applicator

What is static grass?

Before getting into the reviews of the various applicators used to get static grass to stand up, it’s worth clarifying exactly what static grass is.

Static grass is a basing material used in model railways and increasingly miniature wargaming to create realistic-looking grass. It was first introduced into the model community in the 1970s by Boyd Models and applicators from Noch. Essentially, static grass, flock, are man-man fibre stands  (typically nylon or polyester) that when charged with static electricity and sprinkled over a surface coated with glue stand upright giving a credible imitation of real grass but at a much smaller scale.

The fibres are available in a variety of colours and lengths – from 1mm to 12mm – to simulate different types and seasons of grass and look appropriate for different scales and can be used to create everything from lush lawns to meadows to crop fields and grassy tufts.

The key to getting the grass to stand up is to apply a static charge across the grass as it lands on the glue-covered surface, the fibres stand upright when charged, and manufacturers and an army of DIY model makers have devised a variety of static grass applicators.

Read more

The different types of static grass applicators

Puffer powered

photo of a static grass puffer applicator

A puffer applicator for static grass.

The first type of applicator many modellers try is the puffer variety. Essentially, these are plastic bottles with mesh lids. Filling the bottle and shaking/squeezing it sends a shower of grass fibres over the target area. They’re cheap and can distribute grass over a small area quickly.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that it’s very much hit-and-miss if the fibres stand upright when using these.

Some static is generated naturally but the results don’t necessarily give results you’ll be happy with and it’s often a case that the fibres lay flat rather than sticking up and needing more work.

The problem is discussed in more detail here.

I’ve now given up on these and we can rule these out as the best applicator.

Electric applicators

What’s really needed is a way of applying an electrical charge to energise the fibres as they are dispensed.

And this is what most applicators now do.

Electric applicators operate by shaking the static grass through a metal sieve positioned over the layout, miniature base or diorama scenic area. This sieve, or another electrical contact nearby, is connected to a power supply, usually located in the handle of the applicator. As the grass falls, the fibres become charged with electricity.

To complete the process, a wire from the applicator is attached to the material on which the static grass falls. The charged fibres are drawn towards the charge of this wire, causing them to stand upright as they settle.

Compared to puffer applicators, electrical applicators generally yield superior results. The use of an electrical charge significantly enhances the performance, ensuring that the grass fibres stand up convincingly and create a more realistic appearance.

How much do static grass applicators cost?

So they sound simple, and they are, but the prices vary considerably. DIY models start from under £10, increasing to £20 to £30 for the enthusiast-made variety and climbing to £50 to £150 for premium grade static grass applicators from WWS Scenics and Noch GmbH (who invested the first applicator for model railways) and even hundreds of pounds for flocking machines aimed at other uses – such as car interiors and furniture finishes.

So which is best? I’ve been using three of the most common for over a year, and here are my findings.

Electric Static Grass Applicators Tested & Reviewed

Having considered the different types of applicator and their cost, let’s get to the bit you’ve been waiting for. The reviews of the main electric applicators.

DIY (make your own) static grass applicators

First up are the DIY applicators that you can make yourself from a fly zapper and tea-strainer or sieve and some tools (soldering iron etc). There are numerous YouTube videos, like the one below, showing how to make these.


While these DIY applicators are cheap — prices the fly squats start from around £5 in Lidl and the extra bits take the total to around £12 — and they’re certainly effective for getting static grass to stand up they need some DIY skills and electrical skills and typically have other limitations.

For starters, they can be wasteful and messy. Once the grass is placed into the pan bits start to fall through the mesh straight away.

The fibres can also spill out over the top, resulting in grass falling before you even get the applicator over the region of landscape you want to work on.

As an aside, trust me when I say you never want to accidentally open a bag of static grass over a carpet! I’m still finding fibres from a mishap last year 🙂

Equally, they’re limited in capacity.

The tea-strainer variety also only holds a small amount of grass. If you’re working on a large area of landscape expect to spend a lot of time refilling.

Lastly, and what I’ve found most problematic, it can be difficult to get tea strainers with the right mesh size to match the length of fibre being used (a key benefit of the WWS model reviewed below). Too small and longer strands of fibre don’t fall through before the glue sets. Too large and too many fibres fall through at once.

When these worked they were great but a lot of time too much static grass escaped and didn’t fall right or too much still landed in the wet PVA and pushed the fibres down into the glue with results similar to the puffer and needed multiple further layers to cover up flat-lying earlier attempts.

The WWS Grand Model 

One of the most highly regarded applicators is the WWS Grand static grass applicator. These address the above problems but are expensive, understandably given their quality, but expensive nonetheless.

I’ve had one for many months and the results it produces are undeniably superb. The detachable heads of the Grand unit allow it to work with a wide range of different lengths of static grass, from the shortest 1mm to 12mm and a larger hopper for holding grass as you apply it makes it very attractive for large layouts.  It’s available in different configurations of mesh sizes, so get the one with the sizes required: large for grass 1mm to 12mm, small and medium to 1 to 6mm.

Indeed, it’s only the price that puts me off. If I have around £100 to spend on my trains I’d much rather buy a new loco than a tool I’ll only use occasionally hence why it doesn’t take Gold here.

My choice: the Take Cover Terrain applicator

A static grass applicator made from an insect killer.Instead, and after a lot of testing for the price, convenience, ease of use and great results, it’s this model that gets my recommendation as the best cheap static grass applicator.

It’s electric so produces the sought-after stand-up effect.

It’s got a plastic container pot attached to the mesh so can hold a reasonable volume of static grass — you’re not continually refilling when covering large areas.

The mesh clips over the top of the pot so when not spreading material just leave it upright and none will fall through and get wasted.

Finally, at around £16 to £23 it is very affordable and certainly not expensive. The only downside is that it doesn’t have the exchangeable heads of the WWS Scenics model although I’ve used it successfully with 2mm to 6mm lengths. Above 6mm and you probably wan

As such, in my mind, it’s the best around static grass applicator and what I now use to achieve my best grass effects. Here’s a video of it in action:

This has become a longer article than I intended so I’ll finish it now but before I go here are those tips I promised.

Top Tips For Laying Static Grass

The Melin Llechi model railway layout, showing some really well applied static grass.

The wonderful Melin Llechi by scenic expert Tony Hill, the static grass application is superb.

  1. PVA, aka white glue, is the best glue to fix static grass in place and adding a little water seems to help the grass stand upright when using an electric applicator. Mixes of 70/30 or 50/50 water to PVA seemed to produce the best results in my experiments. The water doesn’t just increase the area you can cover but helps with the static; water conducts electricity better than raw PVA so the more watery the better the results.
  2. Blend and mix static grass colours and lengths to get the most realistic look. Obviously, the exact look you want will be based on personal preference but I find 10 per cent medium to 90 per cent short fibres (or 2mm and 1mm) work well on my N scale layouts. Obviously for larger scales, OO and HO scales, for example, longer lengths (2mm,  4mm and maybe 6mm and above) would be used. For wargaming and miniature figures in the 28mm to 32mm range, I’d suggest 6mm and up.
  3. Preparing the baseboard first, painting the area and even adding a fine scatter material before using static grass significantly improves the finished look. As with blending different grasses, the undercoat colour depends on your desired look but brown and greens work best for me.
  4. Place the ground clip of the applicator as near to the area being grassed as possible, ideally near the base under the applicator and move it as you move the applicator. It should make contact with the watered-down glue, so use a conducting pin or nail pushed through the glue layer into the baseboard and connect the wire to this.
  5. Static grass can be a real pain if it gets into the track, point blades particularly, and other elements of a model, so mask off sensitive areas such as track before starting.
  6. Apply a light dusting of hairspray to your static grass once finished. This will work with the PVA to hold it in place and upright.
  7. For added realism, apply multiple coats of static grass; using hair or laying spray as the glue and different lengths for subsequent layers.


In conclusion, static grass applicators have revolutionized the way we create realistic ground cover for model railways, dioramas, and model making. The use of static electricity to make the tiny fibre strands stand upright gives an unparalleled effect, closely resembling real grass and small plants. While there are various types of applicators available, the most effective ones are the electric applicators that charge the fibres as they are dispensed.

DIY applicators can be a cost-effective option, but they often come with limitations such as wastefulness, messiness, and limited capacity. On the other hand, premium-grade applicators like the WWS Grand applicator offer exceptional results with detachable heads and larger hoppers for holding different lengths of static grass. However, their higher price range may not be suitable for everyone.

Considering factors such as price, convenience, ease of use, and great results, the Take Cover Terrain applicator emerges as a highly recommended choice. It provides the sought-after stand-up effect, holds a reasonable volume of static grass, and is affordably priced. While it lacks the exchangeable heads of the WWS Scenics model, it still delivers excellent grass effects.

The best static grass applicator

The ModelRailwayEngineer conclusion is that while the WWS Grand applicator is undoubtedly the best, it’s the most expensive here, and taking this into account, it’s the Take Cover Terrain applicator that, after use on countless layouts and dioramas, gets my vote for the best static grass applicator in 2023.

Thanks for reading!


Footnote: This article has undergone review and fact-checking to ensure its accuracy. It has also been edited for clarity and to ensure the information is up to date and reviews the latest models as of November 2023. Your insights are crucial—should you spot any inaccuracies or have suggestions, please contact me. I welcome your questions, feedback, or personal stories. Please get in contact in a comment below or via my contact page


Picture credit: The Melin Llechi layout by scenic expert Tony Hill at the Epson and Ewell model railway exhibition, 2017.


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Founder of ModelRailwayEngineer, Andy Leaning

Andy is a lifelong modeler, writer, and founder of He has been building model railways, dioramas, and miniatures for over 20 years. His passion for model making and railways began when he was a child, building his first layout at the age of seven.
Andy’s particular passion is making scenery and structures in 4mm scale, which he sells commercially. He is particularly interested in modelling the railways of South West England during the late Victorian/early Edwardian era, although he also enjoys making sci-fi and fantasy figures and dioramas. His website has won several awards, and he is a member of MERG (Model Railway Electronics Group) and the 009 Society.
When not making models, Andy lives in Surrey with his wife and teenage son. Other interests include history, science fiction, photography, and programming. Read more about Andy.

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  1. I used this stuff and made my own applicator from a fly swatter. It did look very nice, but, my 0-4-0 locos kept stalling. I found little bits of the grass on the rails cleared them and on it went, only to happen again a few hours later.

    I used an old cylinder vacuum cleaner with a 1k motor and went all over it. Next time I went to a show the same thing happened again and once again I resorted to the vacuum. Then I used a magnifying glass and just brushed a finger over it, bits broke off, the stuff is so thin and brittle it just breaks with the slightest touch, in the end I scraped the whole lot off.

    Why? I kept asking myself and the ‘grass’ always on top (very odd) of the rail. I think I’ve found the reason, the stuff is susceptible to static as are most plastics, when there is an electric current present the ‘grass’ is attracted to it.

    In fairness it could be just the 0-4-0’s that will stall, but, I’ll never use it again.

    • Hi Jim, that’s interesting problem and you could be on to something about the grass being attracted to the rails due to the electricity. I’ve not had this problem- and I’ve had static grass running along the track on several layouts – or noticed it breaking. As an alternative idea, could it be the glue you’re using isn’t holding it enough? What are you using? Best wishes, Andy

  2. I’d like to switch from flock to static grass for covering the bases of 1:56-1:48 miniatures, so have a few questions:

    1) Is the upgraded version with the negative ion charge generator really an improvement over the standard version?
    2) Should I go with the 80mm or 90mm diameter sieve?
    3) With the exchange rate and shipping to the US, I’m looking at around $60+. I found this one for about $27 and free shipping. It operates on 2AA batteries, like the one you reviewed, but does it look like it’s comparable in quality?

    • Hi, I find the negative ion charge does help, especially for longer lengths of static grass. The size of sieve determines how quickly you can cover an areas, for a miniature base I’d go for the smaller size. The one you found looks similar but having not used it can’t say how it compares in reality. Andy

  3. Hello. Very helpful article, thanks. However, the link for the recommended product is again out of date. Could you provide the name of the manufacturer? Is it Tufts?

  4. HI. In the explanation, you refer to a High Voltage device which is not longer available… But I do not see the characteristics of that device to find a similar one… Could you please share the main characteristics of it ot find a substitute?


  5. Give your freshly applied static grass an extra charge by passing a party balloon over it. Sounds silly but do what you used to do when you were a child, rub the balloon on your jersey to give it a static charge then hold it over the freshly applied static grass. Unfortunately the balloon doesn’t work too well without the prior use of a static grass applicator but it does give the fibres an extra boost. 

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