How to make model trees on a budget

Looking to build a model railway on a tight budget? Here’s the first in a new series on making model railways when you’re on a tight budget, starting with trees.

If you read my recent article about trees and model railways you’ll know I’m a big fan of them and have a lot of them. Previously I’ve used off-the-shelf models and am also using SeaFoam to make them but even these cost money. A quick tally for the various materials to make SeaFoam based trees come out at about £25 for 30 or so trees.  This is a lot better than the £10 or so each you can pay but it’s still more than I’d like.

While discussing these SeaFoam trees with my wife she asked why I didn’t buy the organic plants they were based on. After slapping myself around the head a few times – I hadn’t for a second considered Sea-Foam might be actual plants – I did some research.

Sure enough, SeaFoam is an actual plant – teloxys aristata – you can buy, grow and harvest and yes it’s a lot cheaper than the £20 / 30-or-so plant boxes. A pack of seeds can be had for under £2!

Then its just a case of growing them – pretty much plant and wait – before harvesting in Autumn*

seafoam treesModelRailwayEngineer Extra:
To wait or not to wait that’s the question.

Essentially, we’re trading time for money here.

SeaFoam trees can be bought for approx. £20 and are ready instantly, this tip – by contrast  – requires growing them and waiting the four or so months until they are ready but if you’re too impatient you can buy grown and cut SeaFoam trees here.

Once you’ve got a few of the plants ready a little work is needed to get them looking even more tree-like. There’s a great guide to doing this here, essentially they suggest trimming the size and shape – larger trees can be made by glueing several stems – and soaking them in boiling water to bend as required.

You can then build on this using the video in the previous post on model trees using static grass but being in budget mode I’m also going to be exploring using bits of old Green and Brown cleaning sponge for the foliage. I’ll post some pictures shortly.

> 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. Affiliate notice: If you plan to buy the products on this page or similiar, please use the links here. These will take you to carefully selected businesses, including Hornby, Rapid Online, Amazon, eBay, Scale Model Scenery and Element Games, through which you can buy products mentioned. These links are made under their affiliate schemes which means that although the price to you does not change I receive a small commission on the orders you place which helps me maintain this site and allows me to create more articles like this. Please see my disclaimer for more information. Thank you for your support, Andy.

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