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Modeling a suburban lawn - Mat or Static App?

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Modeling a suburban lawn - Mat or Static App?
Posted by pwilfong on Thursday, July 2, 2020 1:55 PM

I'm trying to model a suburban lawn and am wondering if anyone has used a static applicator to do this.  I thought I could "mow" it using an electric razor set to "low stubble" like the kids do these days.

I'm following the suburban neighborhood section in Pelle Soeborg's "Essential MR Scenery Techniques, and he uses Silfor grass mats, although he usually prefers static applicators. As usual, the photos of his modeling are spectacular.  So maybe mats would be fine.

I'm torn.

 

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Posted by Tinplate Toddler on Thursday, July 2, 2020 2:14 PM

The length of the grass of a well-kempt suburban lawn is about an inch, which translates into 0.3mm in HO scale. Any commercial static grass fibre is about 5 times as much. On my layout I used WS Fine Turf to simulate lawn.

Happy times!

Ulrich (aka The Tin Man)

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Posted by NittanyLion on Thursday, July 2, 2020 3:09 PM

Tinplate Toddler

The length of the grass of a well-kempt suburban lawn is about an inch

I'd dispute that one.  That's like...putting green short.  Yards are more in the range of 2 to 4 inches, depending on the type of grass and the local climate.  My lawn is tall fescue and cutting it to an inch would kill it.

That said, I've never worked with static grass, but if you can cut it down with an electric razor after applying it...the lowest setting on the blade guard on my beard trimmer is 0.4mm.  It also has 0.6 and 0.8.  Those are pretty good lawn lengths in HO scale.

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Posted by rrinker on Thursday, July 2, 2020 3:38 PM

 I would say a mat, unless you are modeling that one guy in the neighborhood who never mows his lawn and lets it grow wild.

                                              --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

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Posted by BigDaddy on Thursday, July 2, 2020 5:02 PM

I remember the green mat on my childhood layouts and have an aversion to it.

Static grass is the wrong product INHO.  Plain old green ground foam is good enough.

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

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Posted by BATMAN on Thursday, July 2, 2020 5:50 PM

Tinplate Toddler
The length of the grass of a well-kempt suburban lawn is about an inch

2 inches spring and fall, 3 to 4 inches once the heat hits.

   

Brent

It's not the age honey, it's the mileage.

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Posted by Tinplate Toddler on Thursday, July 2, 2020 6:00 PM

The RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) recommends 1/4" up to 1/2" for fine English lawn.

Happy times!

Ulrich (aka The Tin Man)

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Posted by azrail on Thursday, July 2, 2020 6:36 PM

Don't forget the bare spots. And a few mounds made by gophers and moles.

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Posted by BATMAN on Thursday, July 2, 2020 7:17 PM

Tinplate Toddler

The RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) recommends 1/4" up to 1/2" for fine English lawn.

Nothin fine about my lawn. Can you imagine the look of horror if I let my crazed John Deere riding daughter and six Golden Retrievers loose on it!Laugh

 

 

Brent

It's not the age honey, it's the mileage.

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Thursday, July 2, 2020 7:26 PM

There's scale and then there's distance from the viewer. The trouble with statically upended fibres to represent grass is twofold: scale grass blades on a suburban lawn would rarely get "taller" than 1-2 mm and real grass doesn't stand on end unless it is very, very  short. More important is that's the scale appearance if you put your nose in the grass. From any distance real grass does not show as standing upright. 

Of you're modelling uncut wild grass then sure, get it to stand on end if you prefer. Even foot high grass isn't going to be represented in scale by very tall fibres. Grainfields that are to represent older strains before short stalk wheat and so on became the norm would be about 2-3 feet high when ripe, less when green. That would be worth representing with upright fibres. 

Alyth Yard

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DrW
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Posted by DrW on Thursday, July 2, 2020 7:49 PM

Tinplate Toddler

The RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) recommends 1/4" up to 1/2" for fine English lawn.

 

The RHS recommendation I found is 1" - 1.5", depending on the season.

https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/how-to-mow-your-lawn

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Thursday, July 2, 2020 7:51 PM

Busch makes short grass mats (at least they used to) that are easy to use and should work perfectly.

I used them in N scale and they looked fine.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by Tinplate Toddler on Thursday, July 2, 2020 10:07 PM

DrW

 

 
Tinplate Toddler

The RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) recommends 1/4" up to 1/2" for fine English lawn.

 

 

 

The RHS recommendation I found is 1" - 1.5", depending on the season.

https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/how-to-mow-your-lawn

 

That matches what I said earlier. The RHS recommendation is for regular garden lawn, fine English lawn is even to be kept shorter.

 

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Ulrich (aka The Tin Man)

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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, July 2, 2020 10:53 PM

Tinplate Toddler
That matches what I said earlier. The RHS recommendation is for regular garden lawn, fine English lawn is even to be kept shorter.

The problem here is that the "fine English lawn" involved is what we'd call a 'tapis vert' in American landscaping: you'll either be very rich or very busy to keep one.  They correspond to the grass on golf-course greens, and comparable work in grading, top-dressing, very frequent rolling of more than one kind, and mowing with reel rather than lateral-blade machines -- reel mowers, in fact, with a great multiplicity of blades that have to be kept ground sharp -- is needed.  (We won't get started on watering or drainage...)

No American lawn you're going to model, unless you do something like the Philadelphia Main Line, will have anything like this, and if you try cutting an ordinary house lawn that short there are a thousand ways you'll come to grief, probably sooner than later.  Note that modeling this in HO is probably no more difficult than rolling out nearly-dry green latex paint with a nappy roller; that will give you scale height without any of the cost of imitating each blade and then trying to trim it before it comes loose from whatever pathetically-minuscule bond the end of the fibers have with whatever they are stuck to.  You could speckle other colors in there to approximate variegated patterns, but be advised that most golf courses mow only three angles; a tapis vert requires many more angles or a nonlinear pattern to be free of artifacts.

All sensible American lawns will be, as the RHS recommended, somewhere in the 1.5 to 2" range, depending on weather and frequency of cut.  In fact, shorter than that and many grasses begin to be uncomfortable to walk on barefoot.

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Posted by Tinplate Toddler on Thursday, July 2, 2020 11:10 PM

Not everyone can employ a "green keeper" Crying

Joking aside - 2" tall grass is .6mm high in HO scale, the regular HO scale grass fibre is 3mm - 5 times as much.

Happy times!

Ulrich (aka The Tin Man)

"You´re never too old for a happy childhood!"

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Posted by Overmod on Friday, July 3, 2020 12:57 AM

Tinplate Toddler
Joking aside - 2" tall grass is .6mm high in HO scale, the regular HO scale grass fibre is 3mm - 5 times as much.

And yes, it's visibly too long (for those who know what they're looking at).  I'm interested in seeing how the experiment with the Don-Johnson-two-day-stubble-look razor works out, or what changes in static-grass application or whatever could be made to get the technique to work.

When I lived in Northern New Jersey, I was using a '40s book on proper lawn care and feeding (that was my grandfather's) and it recommended keeping at least parts of the lawn at 6" for part of the year.  Some additional care in dethatching and top-dressing is required, but the appearance is reasonably satisfactory (if animals including children don't beat a path through it too often) so at least technically you could be in the 3" to 6" range if you have a suitable mower for it and use extremely good thatch removal ... I had an 18hp diesel Walker with a fancy separately-powered vacuum trailer to corral the clippings, and regularly had the deck off to dress the rotating blades at the first sign of less than surgical trimming.  The good news is that none of this rigmarole need actually be duplicated at scale to 'justify' a scale 6" grass height.

The question then becomes 'how many commercial or technically-viable techniques are there which replicate no higher than 6" grass in HO'.  And there's a wide variety of talent here who can answer that better than I can...

There is another, I think important, issue to discuss here.  Just as we weather buildings and equipment, we should have at least a reasonable collection of the 'usual' imperfections in any given lawn for it to appear realistic.  Some high spots and scalping, problems around bed and shrubbery edges, patches of crabgrass, dandelions... stuff that might take only minutes to model, but will give verisimilitude.  We should probably put together a little library of various lawn defects and how to create their appearance...

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Monday, July 6, 2020 9:05 AM

Suburban lawn, with or without noticable imperfections..........google "zip texturing".

Most HO scenery I see these days is too course. Ground foam is fine for "wild" areas. Manicured by humans, in 1/87 scale, not so much.

Remember your viewing distance, at 3' actual, you are 270' scale.

Go out into the real world and take a close look at what you see at 300 feet away. Then model that. How much time do you spend with your eyes only 12 inches from your model? And even that is 87 feet away.

Seems a lot of people these days will settle for oversized detail in the pursuit of more detail, be it on equipment, structures or scenery.

My GRAVELY is set to mow at 3.5" .......... out here on my two acres in rural America, in the heart of the historic Mid Atlantic ......

Sheldon

    

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Posted by Doughless on Monday, July 6, 2020 11:12 AM

Overmod
Note that modeling this in HO is probably no more difficult than rolling out nearly-dry green latex paint with a nappy roller; that will give you scale height without any of the cost of imitating each blade and then trying to trim it before it comes loose from whatever pathetically-minuscule bond the end of the fibers have with whatever they are stuck to. 

Glue down some fine sand and then paint it.  I'd think that would get it about right.  Use a paint brush, and blend in some varying colors of green to simulate normal irregularities and shade/sunlight that captures undulations.

- Douglas

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Posted by kasskaboose on Monday, July 6, 2020 12:54 PM

Does a reasonable grass length matter what part of country? 

I've not tried it, but toning down the shiny grass mat look is necessary.  Adding some variety of color to it also makes it look less uniform and unrealistic.  Mixing up coarse/fine is ideal.

 

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Monday, July 6, 2020 6:02 PM

On that point (the effects of viewing distances on the scale model) the scale viewing distance is very important to the representational effect of a good model. To get a handle on this concept imagine how close your eye would have to get to see your model as if it were viewed in actual size. My aged eyes focus quite well at very short distances, sans specs, but even then a 1/87 locomotive would get fuzzy if my eye were to be close enough to "see" it as if full sized. For a long time now my mantra for modelling has been "if it looks right it is right". The very word model connotes representational and not accuracy down to any particular level. If a model is exactly like the prototype but smaller it isn't really a model, it's just a miniature prototype. It's an important distinction to keep in mind when modelling. The objective is to evoke the experience of seeing the real thing, not to replicate the real thing itself. That's why driving models with electric motors is ok. Also, why DCC sound adds so much to the illusion we try to create. It's really terrific how much sound a DCC model will deliver even while running only in DC mode, for example.

Alyth Yard

Canada

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