29 August 2021
We provide a step-by-step guide to making realistic model hedges for your model railway.
Hedges are everywhere in the British landscape. Whether they are the well manicured type or the shabby natural ones, they are everywhere. Hence, your model railway needs them too. In this article we will guide you through the simple steps of building a typically unkempt hedge. Remember, hedges aren't always green so follow our advice but try using different colours to add variety to your model railway.
The types of hedges you can model are numerous and those that you build are only governed by your imagination. Don't forget that you can also add wire fences interwoven with the hedge, or just posts sticking out to indicate an old disused fence, styles and/or gates added, flowers, semi-derelict walls and buildings.
A great example of quality model hedges can be seen on Kevin Phare's Little Muddle model railway.
Materials used to make model hedges
Normal modelling tools are required for making model hedges: knives, scissors, tweezers, PVA glue, paint and patience!
- Woodland Scenics – Foliage Clusters FC58, Clump Foliage FC683, Fine Turf - weeds T46, Blended Turf - Green T49
- Treemendus Earth powder
- Heki Foliage Flakes Nr 1562
- K&M Hedge strip
- Noch Grass tufts
- Rubberised horsehair
- Brown spray paint
- Hairspray (extra firm hold)
For this article the hedge will be built on a piece of foam board but normally you would build it direct on the model railway layout. Using a tester pot from a local DIY store, the base is painted brown, so if anything grins through the scenery cover it will look like soil. Test pots are cheap and are a good source of basic paints that can be used all the time as an undercoat.
Static fibres from the 6mm autumn range have been used for the grass, but any can be used to suit your needs. Under the line of the hedge form a strip covered in soil powder, this will look like the area under a hedge where nothing much grows. The width of this strip will depend on how wide you need your hedge but this one was made to be 10mm.
A basic lump of rubberised horsehair is cut in small sections, which are sprayed brown to form the basis of the hedge. These will be further trimmed to suit hedge design as work progresses. Spray these with hairspray and sprinkle scatter on for ‘leaves’ – various colours can be used to give tone effect to the hedge.
Start to build the hedge up by laying the horsehair sections along the line of the soil, tease out further if necessary and trim as required leaving a few gaps. In these gaps build up additional sections from layered cluster and clump foliage can be added to break up the outline and feel of the finished hedge. At this point you can let your imagination run wild as you can build the hedge up from foliage, clumps, seamoss, horsehair etc to whatever design you feel is suitable for your hedge.
Using seamoss cut some small sprigs similar to those used for the trees. Spray them brown, add scatter to give the leaf effect. Use hairspray to hold them in place. Plant the sprigs in random places along the hedge to give the impression of small trees, overgrown hedge sections etc, which further breaks up the line of the hedge. Overspray the hedge with hairspray and sprinkle on additional scatter to blend everything together and fill any gaps. The basic hedge is now finished, the following step just adds that bit of additional improvement to makes the finished build really stand out.
Cut short sections off the top of K&M hedge and plant in random places along the hedge line to give the impression of standing weeds. Paint the tops and sides with purple (or a colour that suits your needs) by dragging a brush across the surface.Overspray isolated areas of the static grass with hairspray and sprinkle on any one of the turf scatter so it lays on top of the static grass. This will give the impression of weeds.To further enhance this, drag a paintbrush with say, white paint, to give the impression of flowers. The Heki flakes were then pushed into the static grass before being sprayed with hairspray to hold in place. Grass tufts planted along the hedge line further enhance the different weed type effect. It is a good at this point to give the whole hedge a further spray of hairspray to bind and hold all sections together.
These pictures of the OO gauge Little Muddle layout show various hedge types. One item not to forget is where animals have made a run through the hedge for access. These images show runs through a hedge and under a fence. To make such runs, simply rake away the static grass, dig out a little under the fence or hedge, paint the disturbed area brown and finish with earth powder.
Need more advice?
Watch one of the Woodland Scenics experts show how the company's Foilage Clusters can help you model realistic bushes and shrubbery in our video here.
Now you've looked at hedges, check out our scenery advice section for guides on how to model trees, road signs and even a potato field.
If you've taken inspiration from this article and want to see more examples of realistic model railway scenery, why not visit one of our three model railway exhibitions?! Find out more by clicking here.