How to Lay Model Grass Suitable for A Model Railway or Wargame Board

The following steps are designed to accompany the short video and it is helpful to watch the video with reference to the information below. This article is intended to give you a simple overview to the basics of laying simple grass ground cover suitable to make scenic a model railway/railroad or for use on a playing board for wargame or model diorama.

Ground cover in such situations, however simple, will add greatly to the realism, setting off your models and providing a more pleasing aesthetic effect. It is very easy to do and not expensive. The scope of this article is to show you how to do the basics. These techniques can be combined with those for making more three-dimensional terrain should you so wish.

You will need:

  • Household water-based emulsion paint in the colour of your underlying ‘earth’. A chocolate brown is recommended.
  • Ground scatter (see note).
  • A small paintbrush (for applying paint).
  • A water container for cleaning brushes and for wetting the paint if a thinner consistency is required.
  • Cheap non-perfumed extra-hold hairspray in an aerosol can.

If you are laying the grass for use on a wargame board then you may consider substituting a PVA/water mix for the hairspray to make a more durable finish. The PVA/water mix should be around 40/60% in the water’s favour and be applied at the end using an empty and clean household spay bottle of the type typically found for use of window cleaning products. It should be allowed to dry completely before using the board.

The baseboard surface should be clean and track and ballasting should be done first (see previous articles).

Notes: scatter is available from companies such as Faller, Nock, Gaugemaster and Javis, amongst others. For best effects try using a mix of shades and textures.


Paint the area requiring to be grassed with the household emulsion. Apply carefully to avoid contamination of adjacent ground cover such as ballast, or the track. If necessary add a little water to aid the paint flowing. Make sure that there are no gaps or scatter will not adhere in these areas. Apply the paint fairly thickly, but not so thick that it will crack when drying.


Start with the first shade of scatter, and sprinkle on evenly using your fingers. Do not drag or brush it over or it will emulsify with the paint. Do not apply too thickly.


Repeat step two, but with the other shades and textures of scatter one at a time. Grass is not evenly coloured in nature, and you should not strive for a monoculture colour, but rather try and blend natural progressions between different shades.


Once you are happy with the distribution of the scatter, begin applying the hairspray gently from a distance of not less than four inches. Apply lightly at first until the scatter starts to adhere. Do not use a strong stream at this stage or the aerosol will dislodge and blow away your scatter. Once it has adhered, you may spray a little heavier until the entire mass of scatter is glued in place. Do not apply so much that the scatter looks waterlogged, but do not be stingy.

Leave to dry completely. If you wish for more durability, such as if making a wargame playing board where frequent contact will occur, you can use the PVA/water glue mix for final fixing in step four.

Once completely dry your grassed area is finished. If you wish you can add further scenic detail such as trees and bushes, or alternatively leave it as open grass.

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