5 Essential Elements for Building a Fall Layout

From the crunching of leaves under your feat, to the slight crisp in the air, Fall is high on the list of most people’s favorite seasons. It’s no secret as to why – vibrantly colored forests, elaborate halloween decorations, and of course, pumpkin spice! What’s not to love? For model railroaders, Fall presents a challenge unlike any other season, the results of which can produce some truly inspiring and evocative scenes. In this article, we’re looking at five key elements to feature in a Fall themed layout.

1. Autumn Trees

Yes, this is fairly obvious, but no Fall scene is complete without appropriate trees! Woodland Scenics produces several lines of foliage and tree products geared to Fall layouts which not only look great, but will also help to populate your landscape quickly and efficiently. Fully built and ready to place into your scene, their selection includes trees of various sizes and species, including Beech Trees, Maples, and Deciduous selections, all finished with appropriate yellow, orange, and red tones. Coming in packs of 23 – 38, the deciduous selections are excellent value for furnishing forested areas, while the Beech and Maple variations will look fantastic as foreground details. If your scene calls for wider areas of dense forest, the Autumn Mix Forest Canopy Kit is a great option.

While featuring the widest selections, Woodland Scenics isn’t the only option when it comes to Fall Trees. Walthers SceneMaster also produces a range of beautifully colored autumnal trees, and for those of you who enjoy building trees yourself, Scenic Express offers a range of leaf packets for their line of SuperTrees with plenty of autumnal colors to choose from. While slightly more time-consuming, these trees are excellent value for money, while also incredibly realistic, thanks to their organic plant structure.

2. Ground Cover

While the fading color in trees is the most noticeable Fall change, the ground below is also changing. The deep greens of summer grass are giving way to more muted yellows and browns, and much of the ground under or near trees is almost entirely covered by fallen leaves. Thanks to products from Woodland Scenics and Scenic Express, there is a great selection of appropriate ground cover colors to choose from. These range from fine turf in yellow, brown, and red (perfect for color accents under or near trees) to thicker course turf clumps which will look great as late fall undergrowth.

Taking the realism a step further, Scenic Express also produces fallen Leaf Litter. This is essentially a pack of scale leaves which will look perfect either under your trees, blown across streets, or in piles in front yards! To bring a little more 3D detail to your Fall ground cover, you can also add Walthers SceneMaster Fall Grass Tufts. These come with a semi-adhesive base, and are great for creating clumps of overgrown grass in fields and on the edges of roads and structures.

3. Fall Crops

In addition to changes in the natural environment, Fall also brings with it crops such as fully grown corn stalks and pumpkins. Walthers SceneMaster has you covered for both of these details, and with a few more pieces such as barns, farmhouses, and tractors, you can create an entire Fall farm scene – perhaps even with a corn maze and hayride? Additional farm details such as a scarecrow or hay bales will add to the authenticity.

Apple orchards are also an important component of any Fall farmland scene. Thanks to Woodland Scenics, you can add this feature to your railroad too, complete with ripe apples ready for picking!

4. Seasonal Figures

About that chill in the air… Fall is the time when people tend to wrap up a little more, so you might want to consider making sure that your figures are appropriately dressed. Then again, anything can happen in the Fall, including a heatwave or two, so don’t give up on those lightly dressed figures if you have them!

Of course who could forget trick or treaters? They’re an iconic Fall sight that no scene should be without! While Lionel offers an excellent O Scale figure set, you can usually find some great figures that could easily pass for trick or treaters in HO scale from Walthers or Preiser, such as these zombies or carnival figures.

5. Fall Holiday Items

Speaking of trick or treaters… Whether you’re modeling early October or mid-November, Halloween decor will likely be essential to your scene. Maybe a cemetery or haunted house? You can even go a step further and add a Halloween themed train or rolling stock item to bring the spirit of the season to life!

If Halloween doesn’t fit into your theme, other Fall celebrations can also be replicated with some excellent figure sets, such as Oktoberfest or Thanksgiving.

Join the Conversation

Do you model the Fall season on your railroad? We’d love to see what you’ve done! Send us your photos on social media and we’ll share them to our page!