How to Make Scenery for Your Model Railroad

If you want to create beautiful and unique scenery for your model railroad, you need to use your imagination. You have the option of purchasing items from a hobby or craft store, or you can find items in your own home to repurpose and use.

You will need a variety of supplies to make the scenery. You can use rocks or even kitty litter as gravel. You will also need to make the scenery authentic by putting down water and trees.

Constructing your scenery will require a lot of thought and hard work. Read this article and find out how to make scenery for your model railroad.

How Do You Create Scenery for Your Model Railroad?

Making a model railroad is a great way to express your creativity. It would be best to determine how big a scale you want to build and what materials you want to use to make it. The following will give you some examples of the materials you can employ and do with them.


When you build your roads, you will need some supplies, and some could be in your backyard. You could use or might need:

  • Dirt
  • Gravel
  • Plywood
  • Joint compound
  • Sandpaper
  • Craft paint

You can make roads out of dirt or gravel. You can also go old school and fashion it yourself. You can use a piece of plywood as the road. You will need a joint compound that is already mixed, or as a powder, you will need to mix yourself. Mix it until it has the texture of sour cream.

There should not be any lumps. Then sand the surface of the road with grit sandpaper. Vacuum the dust, then apply a second coat of joint compound. Let it dry, and then vacuum again. Next, you will need to paint the surface of the road.

Make sure that there is no dust leftover before you paint. You should employ two coats of paint to enrich the color of the asphalt.

After you paint the road, you will need white water-based craft paint to gently stroke back and forth on the road’s surface. You will need to control how much paint you put down. Repeat this step until the whole road is covered. Finally, you will need to paint lines on the road.

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David B.


You can get rocks from outside and paint them to create rocky regions in your scenery. You can also apply a plaster cloth called Sculptamold in an irregular manner by using a towel. You can make rocks, walls, and cliffs.

After you have applied Sculptamold to the surface, you will cut lines in any way you want to simulate an irregular rock surface. Another option is to purchase readymade rocks from hobby stores. You can cut and shape them however you want.

Kitty litter also works in a pinch to make gravel. You can try all these methods if you have ample space for your model railroad scenery. It will make for the beautiful scenery that you can enjoy.



Model scenery looks more realistic with some trees surrounding the road. You can make trees by using a few pruned branches of sugarbush by linking the stalks together and bunching them with masking tape. You can purchase the sugarbush at a hobby or craft store.

When you have all the sugarbush together, you can glue them together and paint over the taped areas, so the trees look more natural. You can also use polyester fiberfill and turf. You can make little puffballs from the fiberfill and make hundreds of trees for your scenery.

David B.


You can add waterfalls, lakes, or ponds to the scenery. Locate a bare, flat section that is a foot or two in size. Use painter’s tape to protect the area where there are tracks.

Mist the area you want to use with water with a few drops of soap. Then, Mist it again with a diluted mixture of glue and water. The combination should be about 50 percent glue and 50 percent water. Let the area dry. Remove the tape.


The best way to make bridges for model train scenery is by using wood. Draw a design for your bridges. Draw it on the wood and cut out the parts. Stick the separate pieces together with wood. Let it dry. Paint it with a color that will make it appear realistic.

Another option for making a bridge is to use styrene, CA glue, and poster boards. Make a formation with poster board and CA glue. You can cut small pieces of styrene to create the outer bridge structure and then stick them together with the glue.

Also, you could use

  • Popsicle sticks
  • Toothpicks
  • Coffee stirrers

These would be great to make your bridge. Remember that the glue you use is essential to the bridge’s strength.

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Other Details

You can add anything you want to make your scenery complete. You can even include people and animals. If you wish to an early 1900’s style, you can use models of old buildings or the Greek revival style of the 1840s and 1850s.

You can also gather up any items you see at hobby stores or even in your home and repurpose them for model train scenery. For example, you can use:

  • The cap from a deodorant bottle as a rooftop skylight.
  • Use the rock from that old fishtank
  • Old nails can become fenceposts

You would be surprised what gems you have hidden in that throw-away drawer in the kitchen.


Building the scenery for your model railroad track can be fun. It will take some patience and dedication, but it is worth it to see the anticipated outcome.


Lifelong Rail Enthusiast and Owner of Worldwide Rails

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