Landscaping and Plants

Page: 3

Kids Project: I taught a class called Teeny Tiny Garden to kids in grades 3-5. Each year I do this I learn a little...this year I cut way back on the complexity of the project because a lot of it has to be done by me before the class! The classes are only 45 minutes long and there is not much time for glue and paint to dry. This project started out with a white fence on a painted-green wooden base. Then the students were given shredded foam grass, foliage, punched flowers, a birdbath and a bird to arrange any way they wanted. I gave a short lesson about scale (with flowers in vases in full size, 1", 1/2" and 1/4" scales for visual comparison) and demonstrated a couple techniques such as cupping the flowers with a blunt toothpick on a piece of craft foam. Each student came up with unique ideas, some I would never have thought of! There were even moments when you could have heard a pin drop, they were working so hard. I actually had time to take some photos this year and DH stopped by so I am even in some of them.. look in the Kids College 2002 album on my Epson site. This was one of the most rewarding things I have done with minis!

Chris in Minnesota

Plant Kits: .I have Diffenbachia, Golden Diffenbachia and Croton kits available thru my website.   I also offer 3 species of Caladiums in kit form (2 more later this year, after my bulbs have grown up - LOL). All Things Small"

Laura in OKC

Making a trellis: I made a similar structure and it was a ball and simple. To make the trellis from scratch, you will need:

twine; cord, etc., depending on your scale.
Elmers white glue
A sharp blade or scissors
wax paper
a sheet of paper and draw your trellis to scale.


The trellis can be made as a woven structure, if you designed it that way. Lay the wax paper over the drawing. You should see you drawing thru the wax paper.

Cut the string, one at a time, to size from the drawing.

Wet the string thoroughly with the glue and place it in position according to your plan by laying it right on the wax paper using the lines of the drawing as a guide.

Using this cut/wet with glue and lay it on the wax paper method until you have completed the trellis.

Let it dry and then remove it from the wax paper.

Paint it to your liking.

Have fun and save money.

DrBob...Delray Beach, FL.

Landscaping a house too big for table:   I think I would handle it with a brick planter on each side of the house.  Make a open top box the length of the foundation and the same height.  Turn the box upside down and brick or adorn it with something that works with your house.   Put and extra row on the top to capture you planting.  Drill holes in the foundation and the boxes and screw together. Then they could be removed to transport easier later.  Fill your planter with an assortment of shrubs and flowers and there you are.  You can then make a front yard to match the new width of your house to sit on the table in the front yard. Hope I interpreted your problem and maybe solved it for you.   I have a wide selection of landscaping supplied please e-mail me for those. I also have some finished scenes on our web site.  Thing you might be able to use in your front yard.

Gail, Gailcrafts Miniatures Showcase

Landscaping Challenge: I had the same problem of a complex landscaped project that was kinda like building the boat in the basement.  You can see how I solved this by going to my website: m/davesminiplace     When you get there, go to the architectural models and surf down to the "connector building."   This one was built in removable parts in two dimensions: Horizontally to get it out the doors and Vertically to show the details of each floor.  Luckily so.  Remember, the model you see at the website was built before the building was.  It helped get the funds to build the building.  I am now challenged to update the vertical members (2nd & 3rd floors) to the latest configuration.  That is the vertical approach.

Next, I must take apart the horizontal phases shown in the website photos to update the aquarium displays.  I am thankful I can do it in manageable steps because each segment can be worked on individually.   

I will be happy to talk further to anyone who has seen this model on the website about how it was segmented, first to get it out the door, and now to facilitate reworking the model.  


Trellis: Pop along to your local motor mech and ask them for an old air filter. They come in various sizes and voila - the outer covering is a most marvelous trellis. Most motor mechs will throw this at you for free.

Samantha Kruger

Landscaping Challenge: I have built sets for museums, collectors, photographers, miniaturist and movies for many years.  I only mention that so you will know that I have a bit of experience that I use when making suggestions to you or other collectors.

A base for a house of 50 inch. by 28 inch. is not as great a challenge as you might anticipate. Though you are concerned about the weight, I would still recommend that it be built of 1/2 inch plywood. I only recommend 1/2" plywood as a base for a landscaped set. Other products, such as masonite or pressed wood will warp, foamboard or 1/4" plywood can break. I would not, however, attach it to the house, in fact, I never recommend attaching a structure to a landscaped environment. It is best to make a false foundation the size of the house as a permanent part of the base and set the house on or into this. By so doing, you can remove your house at any time for repairs or to move it to another location. This hollow shell makes a perfect hiding place for electrical boxes. A foundation can be of brick, stone, lattice or a myriad of other materials. I normally use 1" thick by 2" wide bass or plywood strips to build my shape.

I also like to design a landscape set that collapses for storage or moving. To do otherwise can often result in a problem like the man who built a ship in the barn and had to tear down the barn to take the ship to sea.  A 60" round card table with folding legs could convert to the perfect landscaping plot for your home. I would skirt the table to create a more finished look.

Beneath the skirt I would use plastic or wire rolling carts to store all of the items I had collected for this miniature property as well as the building and landscaping materials I had collected.  I would replace the table top with one of the 60" unfinished wood tops found in most hardware stores.

I am going to quote now, from a booklet  I wrote for miniaturists many years ago..........*So many of you have ask how I would council an individual to go about constructing a miniature environment. My advice is simple - just as you do in real life. First there is the lot (board), then there is the foundation (separate from the dollhousefor easier handling) then you frame the structure and complete the exterior. Most people plant a yard and a tree or two and THEN MOVE IN. The same applies to a miniature home. Done in this manner, with a completed exterior that has been landscaped, you do not have to hide your house in the spare room or basement and not let anyone see it

for the next five years while you furnish it.  Just place a ladder and a bucket of paint with a brush, a roll of wallpaper or two, a few packing boxes, etc. and say the house is still under construction. Finish the interior at your leisure and as your budget allows. Since the house has not been attached to the base you may wire it for electricity at a later date without damage to the set......

Tape together as many sheets of quarter inch graph paper as you need to make a 60" round.....Trace the outline of your house, mark where windows, doors, porch, gutters, drains and other exterior elements are located. Label each of these marks. .......Cut shapes from construction paper to represent the gazebo, pond, fountain, ice house or other exterior structures you wish to have in the future. Now play paperdolls and move these elements around until their placement appeals to you. It is important to select all outdoor structures before deciding on trees, shrubs, walks and patio's. These items are a constant, their size is seldom subject to alteration. Your landscaping elements can be changed to meet the space you have available for them....*

This is by no means all of the story but it should spark a few ideas. If you absolutely DO NOT want to go to the time and trouble to create this environment, I suggest you design planters that will surround your house and can be removed at will. Planters can hold trees, vines and elegant flowers. I hope I have given you a few things to think about.  If the members of SS want to know more about landscaping, I will be happy to address questions posted in SS.

Becky Holliday

Landscaping Challenge: My husband and I average about 2 shows per month.  We use a house front (not near as big as your house but I think this would work for you) on our table to display our products which mainly consist of landscaping/florals/outdooraccessories.  Because the house is always "traveling" my husband made the landscape base to fit up against the house but it isn't attached.  What he used is the foam board from an art supply store or hobby store.  You can get it in different colors but I would suggest the black (looks like dirt). If you look at the main page of our web site, you can see that he did it in two sections (one on each side of the steps, but even the steps are detachable for easy travel).  This little yellow house was our first display house. It has been retired as of this year and  we now have a new one.  It is green with two stories and a wrap around covered porch.

What you do is set your house on the foam board leaving the amount of board showing that you would want to landscape.  You then trace the edge of the house on the board with a pencil.  Cut the traced edge with an exacto knife. He cut the shape that he wanted for the outside edge then lined the outside edge with our landscape timbers but you can use any light weight product of your choice.   He then carefully covered the foam board with our mulch (but you can use "dirt" or whatever).   None of my landscape pieces are ever attached as they are all for sale so what I generally do is try to cover the base of the landscape items with the color of the bark (we have 4 colors available) so it looks like it is permanent.  This way I can change the color schemes for the house every time I set it up.

My suggestion to you for the base is to get the very thin plywood approximately 1/8" thick to put under your dollhouse.  This way it is very light weight but yet sturdy enough to hold up the landscaping.  You could also do this in sections the same shape of the landscape so that it doesn't show making sure that you leave enough board to put under the house to support it (approximately 4" under the house).  Or  you could use one large piece the size of the house plus the landscape section.   I hope this make sense to you but if not, e- mail me privately and I will try to explain more clearly or send pictures.


Landscaping a house too big for table: I had a similar problem -- my dollhouse also covered the table it rested on and I extended it for landscaping by buying a larger sheet of thin Birchwood that extended beyond the dollhouse.  I built the landscape in three different sections as the foam only comes in 2 foot lengths and it needed to be longer.  The foam needs to rest on a stable (wood or wood like material for stability)  you can then place the foam on the wood up to the foundation and plant trees, grass bushes or whatever you like.  I have large trees and bushes/rocks placed around the house.  When you are looking at the landscaping you cannot tell the foam in three sections.

When I move the house I remove the three moveable landscape areas - place them in smaller boxes that protect them - remove the house from the piece of birch wood and load it into a van -  then slide the Birchwood in the van and reassemble where and when I want.

If you want to view my house with the extended landscape area you can on my website   scroll to the bottom of the home page and select "my dolls in dollshouses" you will see the landscape extending from the front and sides of the house.   I was limited in the room I had for the house and landscape area.   And when I moved I didn't want to not be able to take the landscaping with the house. 

I hope this helps - you just have to plan it out.

Jean in Seattle

Portable landscaping: Why not take a page from the model railroaders?  Make your "yard" in straight sections and leave an inch at the inner margin to rest the house on and landscape the rest.  My house sits on a sheet of plywood but isn't fastened and can be (carefully) lifted off to move. 

Havana (FL) Holly

Portable Landscaping: You could make styrofoam bases to use around your dollhouse that could be removed.  Our club did that for a dollhouse that we did for the Women's Crisis Center.  You fit the pieces around like you want them.  Then, you landscape each individual piece as you would have done if it was permanent.  It works very well.


Landscaping too-big house: How about that blue foam insulation (or whatever it is they put on the outside of real houses).  It's 1/2" thick, very light weight and available in 4 X 8' sheets from any building supplier.   After landscaping around the house you can cut off the excess fairly easy.  I built 8 roomboxes with some leftovers I got and 8X10 picture frames @ 2 for $5 from Wal-Mart cheap cheap.   

***note: the insulating foam also comes in 1" and 2" thicknesses***

Mary Ann Miller

Christmas Trees: Try the one I have on my site: Click on the Evergreen Trees link.

Anne Gerdes

Christmas Trees: This lady sells fantastic kits, also sells lighting and other Christmas goodies. GJ's


mossy flower pots: I used my DH's model RR "Woodland Scenics" greenery and brownery (is that a word??). The finest available--it's almost powdery. Mixed some greens together and then put thin glue down the sides of the flower pot in a shape that looked natural. Sprinkled the powdery mix and added some browns here and there. Turned out great. Nice to have a DH with the supplies needed. I guess you could spray with a matte finish on the pots to preserve--but mine have lasted without anything. I always forget that last step.!!!

Elise in Va.

Pine cone site: I found this site while updating my web page.


Realistic Trees: I have just the place for you! AMSI Miniature Landscaping in Petaluma, CA. E-mail Mary Costello at and see their web site at They have kits or will build to your specifications if requested. Prices are very reasonable. Mary recently built "The Big Old Tree" for me for a scene. [Landscaping isn't one of my fortes.]

Patricia / Redwood City, CA

Realistic Trees: check out Architrees at They make trees for architects' models . The trees look very realistic. They have several that are 12, 18, or 24 inches high. Those seem to be a much more realistic size for 1:12 scale than most of the trees that we see sold for dollhouse landscaping. The prices are very reasonable too. I'm even hoping that if enough people working in the 1:12 scale contact them, they may increase their line of 18 and 24 inch trees. Right now they only have a few types of trees in that size.

Mary in Virginia

Quick flowers: What you can do to make flowers in a hurry is this: Have a look at some tiny silk flowers, small  plastic plants etc. Usually there are all sorts of bits and pieces that you can cut off and they will look fine when used for flower arranging. I use them often and I have a collection of tiny berries ( great fillers in an arrangement) ), the smallest leaves ( single ones or bunches), the things from the centres of silk flowers are often nice  too. Perhaps you will even find silk flowers that are small enough. You could even cut leaves from big silk leaves when you paint a shape with fray check , leave to dry and then cut out. How about using beads? I have some that look like little daisies and roses. Perhaps they will need a bit of paint to look more realistic. DO you have a dried flower arrangement in the house ? great! You can cut off a few nice pieces and no one will notice.   It is very easy to make clusters of berries. Use some cloth covered wired coated with tacky glue and just dip it into a pot of small beads. Voilla!


Gravel walkways/cat litter: I discovered that this is a great train layout's what they use for railroad beds and works like a champ.   Put Elmer's glue in the area you want your walk, then sprinkle the kitty litter on it.    I'd cover the edges with tape or whatever so you can contain your walk if you   want it to be fairly precise in width.   When it's completely dry, I'd brush on a   bit more Elmer's and carefully fill in the bald really looks   sure to get the grayish/brownish kind - probably the cheapest will be the   best.

Molly Cromwell

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