Model Railroad Scenery Tips: Adding Dirt to a Layout

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When it comes to adding natural elements to your model railroad scenery, there’s nothing better for achieving realism than using the real thing. This is especially true for dirt–you can recreate its likeness with brown paint, but it clearly doesn’t feel the same without the texture of actual particulates. Plus, getting real dirt is simple; all you have to do is step outside with a bucket and you have free material for months. Using it is just as easy, and only a bit time consuming. In this video on model railroad scenery tips, we teach you how to turn the thick clumps of dirt you find in your backyard into fine powder that can be used in any scene layout.

Useful model railroad scenery tips: refining dirt

To be able to use the dirt right out of your backyard in a model railroad scene, you have to first refine it down to a powder that can easily be sprinkled and spread. NMRA Expert Modeler Gerry Leone has a few model railroad scenery tips that will help with this process, and he walks you through a step-by-step demonstration of these model railroad scenery tips.

First, you’ll need a bucket of dirt. Then, Gerry shows you how to take the loosely packed dirt you pull from the ground and use a wire screen to quickly break down batches and remove any debris. After sending it through the screen, the next of Gerry’s model railroad scenery tips is to use another household object to further strain the dirt and bring it down to a nice fine powder, which can easily be manipulated and adhered to your landscape.

Once you’ve created a nicely sized batch of powdery dirt, Gerry teaches you expert model railroad scenery tips for spreading and gluing it to your layout. With a little patience and a decent amount of dirt and glue solution, you’ll end up with a patch of ground that looks like the real thing, because it is!