Martin Tärnrot

Using Bark Pieces for Hillsides

Martin Tärnrot
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Duration:   8  mins

There’s more than one way to model rock hillsides. In this video, MRA Contributing Editor Martin Tärnrot models them using bark pieces.


There are also a few ways to model the bulk of the hill. Here Martin does it by cutting it to shape from a block of styrofoam or XPS board. Glue it to the layout with water-based adhesive. For another way to build a hill, see Plaster Gauze Hills on the Lakeside Lines.

The exposed rock face is made of bark pieces. These can be found in playgrounds, flower beds, and perhaps in your own garden. Choose large pieces and put them in the oven for an hour at 100º C/212º F to kill anything living in the pieces.

Cut the bark pieces in half the long way. This gives you two pieces for each one you picked up, plus a flat surface to work with on each piece. Put a generous amount of flexible glue on the styrofoam block and attach the bark pieces to it. While it is drying, mist some alcohol on the bark pieces and then spray landscape glue over them.

Next, fill around the bark pieces on the back side with gypsum or plaster of paris. The gypsum hardens in five to ten minutes. Pour it onto the styrofoam at the back side of the bark pieces and take a brush to move the gypsum into the small spaces.


When the gypsum has set, it’s time to paint. Martin uses a few different colors of paint and washes on the bark and styrofoam—be sure to watch the entire video for the details. He also adds a basic coverage using turf from Woodland Scenics to the landscape behind the mountain, then some static grass and clump foliage, also available from Woodland.

The advantages of this method of creating hillsides are that you don’t have to be an artist and carve the hillsides by hand, and the bark material can be picked up outside for free. If you’d like to compare methods, take a look at our other videos on this topic—for example, Making Rocks & Hillsides.

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