The secret to applying static grass without breaking the bank

This tip is so obvious it’s frequently overlooked yet it’s possibly one of the most effective and certainly cheapest alternatives to off-the-shelf static grass applicators. First some background.

Static grass, or flock, is a material used to simulate grass and low-level vegetation. It’s made from short Nylon-type threads and easily gives the most realistic finish.

The key difference is that whereas scatter material is made of tiny granules, static grass consists of threads and so looks and acts like real grass.

If you’re still using scatter materials for grass you NEED to try Flock. You won’t go back.

Put the static in grass

To get the best out of static grass, however, a static charge is needed. This makes the individual threads stand up and add considerable realism to your fields and grassland.

There are of course commercial tools, such as the HEKI Flockstar, designed just for this purpose, but these can cost more than your locomotives!  And there are more affordable applicators for war gaming and model railways, such as the WWS range.

An alternative is the DIY applicators found across the web. These consist of an electrical insect killer connected to a metal mesh of some variety. The components for these can cost around £8 to £10 to buy while ready-assembled units are available on eBay for around £20. A lot, lot, cheaper than commercial products like the Flockstar but there’s an even lower-cost option.

If you have young children, or you can remember back to your younger years, you’ve probably seen the endless fun that kids can have with balloons. One of the most popular games is rubbing the balloon against clothes and then holding it above their heads and watching their hair stand up.

Exactly the same technique that is used to make static grass stand up.

And sure enough, you can use balloons – costing just pence – as static grass applicators.

The secret

Lay down some static grass glue and then scatter the grass over it.

Now get a few balloons, inflate them, rub them on Nylon or Polyester clothing and hold them over your model railway grass.

The grass will stand up like a treat and you’ve saved yourself the cost of a static grass applicator.

The glue can set quickly, cementing the grass where it lies so you might want to inflate the balloons first to save some time and give the grass more chance of standing up.

> 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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