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Home Made Ground Cover

Thanks to a model railroader
This is a tip I learned from a good friend of mine, Marvin Koehler, a fantastic model railroader who has probably forgotten more about modeling then I will ever learn. So I want to thank him for being such a good friend and mentor.
First lets talk about what you will need. First you need leaves. I try and collect as many different colors as I can find and, once you have them, sort them out into like colors and put them into different zip lock bags.

Next you need a blender, a cookie pan, a sifter (1 or 2 different sizes is best), a cheese cloth or, in my case, one of my wifeís old stockings, an oven and a few bowls.
After you have collected the leaves take a batch and place them into the blender about 1/2 to 3/4 full. Next fill the blender about half full and cover tightly. Turn on the blender to beat/whip on low speed. Let the leaves be chopped up for about 30-60 seconds. Turn off the blender and check to make sure there are not anymore large chunks. If there are large chunks left, then repeat the beat/whip cycle another 30-60 seconds. If there are no large chunks turn the blender onto puree for about 30 seconds but no longer than 45 seconds or else you will end up with mush. The puree stage will give you some very fine grindings once it is dried out. Once you are satisfied with that there arenít anymore large chunks in the blender, take the lid off and place your cheese cloth or stocking over the opening. Turn the blender upside down, holding the stocking in place, and unscrew the cap that holds the blade on. Run water through the opening to get all of the leaves out.
Once you have all of the material out of the blender and into your stocking, let the water run over it to rinse some of the dirt and grime out of the leaves, usually about a minute will do. Turn the stocking inside out over the cookie pan and scrape out as much as you can, donít worry about what is left inside of the stocking, just hang it out to dry and you can scrape out the leaves once they have dried.
Now spread it out evenly around the cookie pan. Turn the oven on to bake at 175-200 degrees, and place the cookie pan inside. Turn on the timer for about 20 minutes. Once the 20 minutes have passed, take out the cookie pan and use a fork or spatula to stir the leaves around to aid in the drying. Put them back in for another 20 minutes and repeat the process until they are completely dried. Depending on how much leaves you have it could take anywhere from 40-80 minutes.

When the leaves all have dried, take the pan out and let it cool off. Once cooled take the smaller size sifter and a bowl and place the mix into the sifter over the bowl, shake the sifter until you are satisfied that the smallest particles have all come out. Take the sifted material out and place into a zip lock. Next place the mix into a larger sifter and do the same thing. I have 3 different size sifters and so I am able to get three different sized leaves.

Now if you want you can repeat the process using the other colored leaves. I have also bought a bag of dried leaves from Hobby Lobby for about $2.00 that were a more green color. I mixed these in with some of the lighter brown to give more color to the groundwork.
And there you have it... home made forest litter. Now the rest is up to you. I find it best to mix this material with other types of ground work, especially the type of dead leaves that Bryan Gray (ex-royal) just wrote a review about. There are a lot of possibilities with this mix and, best of all, it is free. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

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About the Author

About Robert Beebe (rbeebe99)

I have been modeling for about three days now, thanks to Armorama I know everything I need to know.


I like the idea. It's another example of FOC (free of charge) inqinuity. I love sharing the ideas. For someone who is financially able to buy ground cover this may not fit. But for those who are on a tight budget - this will be great. Which ever side of the money fence you fall on you'll now have a solution. Very nicely done everyone. Thanks Robert and Danny
JUN 09, 2005 - 08:33 AM
I received a hand crank herb grinder for Christmas last year. (I have no room for a "real" garden so I go herbs and habenaros on top of my central air unit in pots) Anyway, I have been waiting to try out the grinder on several different types of dried leaves to use them as ground cover. I will give Bob's blender method a whirl (I slay me) too. As I see it there are way too many people buying things anymore they could make themselves. I just finished making a towing timber to slam onto the Jadgpanther I am making out of bass wood, styrene, and wire. It looks cool and more than anything else, I made it... Thanks for the article. Shaun
JUN 09, 2005 - 08:48 AM
Robert, excellent article!!! I have been messing around with ground scatter and I love your technique. Thanks for sharing it. Kevin
JUN 09, 2005 - 09:13 AM
Brilliant!...making leaves from, well , leaves! Great idea...thanks for sharing. Eddie
JUN 09, 2005 - 03:17 PM
Thanks for sharing another homemade techniques. It's a brilliant idea! but do we need to pour water inside the blender before we switch it on? i think there's a missing statement in this sentence = "Next fill the blender about half full and cover tightly. " 2nd lines para 3 anyway, i will try this when i have the opportunity.
JUN 09, 2005 - 03:32 PM
Hi Robert, Great tip. Thanks for sharing. Like Silantra I also picked up on the: What do we fill the blender with? Other than leaves... Judging from the pictures it looks like water... Rudi
JUN 09, 2005 - 06:29 PM
Free is best! A question didn't the leaves fade after a time?
JUN 10, 2005 - 04:50 AM
I am glad that you all like the technique, it is very easy and free. Yes it is water that you add, sorry I didn't put that in the article, you always overlook the obvious. As far as fading I haven't noticed any, but then I also seal the entire groundwork with flat lacquer to tone down the glossy glue mix. I guess it is possible that it would fade over time, but I think that it would take awhile. Now let's see some of you try it and please post pictures. Rodger, the coffee grinder sounds like a good idea, I already have the cheap blender so if you try it please let us know how it works. regards, Robert
JUN 10, 2005 - 10:32 AM
To add to the fading question- anything natural - leaves, herbs, etc if not sealed - will fade. A good seal will stop that.
JUN 10, 2005 - 10:44 AM
That's a great idea and the result is quite nice, but I just wondered why you wouldn't use dried leaves (which usually fall down the trees in fall ) and grind / cut them or rub them between your fingers (if they are dry already they will fall into small pieces very easily). I use this method and the leaves look qute similar, but you won't have to mess around with wet leave-mud and your oven. The difference is, that you'll probably get smaller particles (I use this method for 1/72nd dios). Best wishes, ekke
JUN 10, 2005 - 10:38 PM