The landscape has distinct layers of foilage you can model effectively with careful observation. In this photo Layer 1 consists of grasses, weeds and taller ground cover plants. Layer 2 is made up of small and medium sized shrubs and bushes (natives like black berries or invasives like honeysuckle. Layer 3 is the leaf canopy of the trees. These layers, with their distinctive textures, will show up nicely in larger scales like S or quarter-inch. In the smaller scales such as N or Z they will be too small to worry about. In those scales, color and overall shape will be more important than individual textures. HO scale landscape elements will be a blend of shape, colors and some coarse textures like tree bark.
Consider the lessons from the prototype photo above and how they were applied to the quarter-inch scale model landscape below.
The three distinct landscape layers applied to quarter-inch scale model scenery. Here you’ll see Layer 1 as the bare dirt and grassy areas, which also includes some taller weeds. And yes, in spite of my recent rants about the inadequacies of ground foam, that’s exactly what the bits of green material are. While I think it is overused in modeling scenery, it does have its applications. Under the trees this layer features a dense cover of fallen leaves from the previous year. (Real leaves were crushed by hand and secured with diluted white glue.) In the real world this leaf layer will form a deep bed of nutrient rich compost that supports a wide range of plant and microbial life. The shrubbery in Layer 2 is made from sisal rope that was separated into the individual strands, then spray painted with black, gray and brown colors. The mature trees of Layer 3 are made from natural materials gathered from the yard or purchased commercially. As shown in the prototype photo, a woodland will have trees of differing sizes; some will be older and more mature, others will be younger competitors fighting for space and light.