Make your own foliage

make your owln foliage
How a chance email revealed my new favourite way of making foliage and it’s almost free.

I spend a lot of time on the vegetation of my layouts. Sometimes I’ll spend days and days on a tiny section reworking it until I’m happy. In fact, I recently caught myself teasing bushes around an N scale engine shed gutter pipe at 2am! Getting up for work the next day was hard.

Getting up for work the next day was hard.

And it’s not just time that I spend a lot of.

I hate to think how much I’ve spent on Woodland Scenics and Noch foliage and ground cover over the years. Yikes!

While working through the Model Railway Engineer inbox recently, however, I read an email from Micheal.

He was trying out the tip for making trees I covered in March and was using the standard kitchen scrubbers, the ones with a rough side. In my original idea I only used soft sponges and in the case of scrubbers, the coarse side was discarded.

While discussing his problem it dawned on me that this unused side also had potential.

I scurried into the kitchen and recovered a well used old kitchen scrubber and gently peeled off the rough side. Whether it was because it’s old or due to the material I don’t know but it came away in clumps and strands.

Just the texture I was looking for.

make your own model railway bushesBeing well used the colour had faded so I sprayed it. I wasn’t trying to completely cover it just add variation so the spray nozzle was held some way away giving a very light dusting. This was repeated several times with different shades of light green.

(I used my airbrush but there’s nothing wrong with off the shelf aerosol spray paints such as those by Tamiya. A single can will be enough for a huge amount of bushes and foliage).

I was very happy with the result.

It has a similar stringy hairy texture to Noch foliage allowing it to be a pulled and needled into crevices and along walls but also a slightly clumpy nature that adds realism.

I’ve since used it as vines around creeping up buildings and walls, as ground cover in wooded areas and as low height bushes along fences. I haven’t been up until 2am doing this yet but I’m sure that will come…

Give it go and let me know what you think.

> 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.
  1. Thank you for my latest offering and I will do exactly that to the old non stick pan scrubs plain also as you spray them all colours you need for ground cover I am using dried tea bags for soil brilliant I found a box I had done years ago and as it still smelt of tea I then realized that this had been one of your first ever tips way way back keep em coming you are doing a very good memory jog on my old 68 years of aching bones haha cheers chris Jordan and kind regards to you and yours .

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