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

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. For applying static grass an applicator will be needed, read my post on the applicator I use for more information.

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

> A final, personal, note: I spend a huge amount of time testing, photographing, writing and researching techniques for these articles and pay for all the running costs of MRE out of my own pocket. If you found this article useful you can support me by making a donation on my fund-raising page. Thanks and happy modelling, Andy.
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.

Afflliate disclosure:The links on this page may take you to carefully selected businesses, such as Hornby, Amazon, eBay and Scale Model Scenery, where you can purchase the product under affiliate programmes. This means I receive a small commission on any orders placed although the price you pay does not change. You can read my full affiliate policy here. I also sell my my own ready to use, pre-made and painted buildings and terrain features. browse the range.

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