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Many of the trees I purchased off eBay and from Maritime Hobby, but I also made a number of them using twigs and flower stems I found in the yard. There are over 500 trees on this layout - so far. Many more to add. Dead trees were represented by weed and flower stems from the yard.
Almost ALL the rocks I made which stand alone or are part of a mountain were made with a rubber mold and plaster of paris. I bought a mold but also made one as well. The larger painted rocks were made from real rocks I found outside, the smaller ones are just "surfaces", very thin, like veneers. I painted all of them.
Railroad tunnels were made from fiberglass, using a round plastic bottle for a mold. Vehicle tunnels (red truck below) were made from 2/3 cut of a plastic icing container. Mountains were made of plaster cloth on top of a form made of cardboard strips, or in some cases, crunched up brown paper. Smaller hills are made of Styrofoam.
Usually two layers of plaster cloth were sufficient, then I wiped it over with plaster of Paris to fill in the little holes of the plaster cloth. They were then painted, and trees, shrubs, grass and debris added.
Most of the grass was purchased, but some was made using sawdust and mixing commercial grass with dirt. Much of the undergrowth and bushes are commerical artificial materials supplemented with lichen I pulled off trees and rocks from our forest. Mu
The sky is the limit for number of possible designs. Many hard-core model railroaders will model their layouts on a prototype (the word used to denote a real-life railroad). The other option is "free-style" which is what I chose. Since I only had an 8x11 foot room and I needed walking space, I maximized the train tracks as much as I could. This was a mistake because much of my turns are 15 inch radius (tight) where I should have been using 22 inch. A result of this is that my trains cannot go too fast or risk derailing. I designed my layout with a Railroad layout program. Once I had the track laid out, I had to elevate it over the entire wood base to a max grade of 3 degrees.
Phase 1 Wood Base
Phase 2 Styrofoam
Phase 3 Tracks
After I had finished my layout I bought a wood trestle for $5.00 at a train show. I fixed it then had to put it into an existing spot, cutting out the track I had installed and doing the "scenery around it. These photos show the progression.