Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Terrain Lab - Garden Patches

Lately, I've been working on some light weight terrain while I take the time to score some proper buildings or build them myself, whichever comes first. As I do not like to spend a ton of money and enjoy coming up with my own ways of doing stuff, I decided to dig into the junk drawers and see what was there. The answer? Old pizza box liners.

Oddly enough, you can keep this stuff around without attracting flies and the corrugated finish has a number of uses from cheap Spanish tile roofing, to corrugated iron, and now garden patches. The process is relatively simple, though you can layer it on as much as you like and to whatever final effect you want -

  1. Cut corrugated pizza box liner paper to desired size.
  2. Round off the corners of the pizza box liner.
  3. Glue liner to stiff card, leaving a modest rim between the edge of the liner and the edge of the card. Make sure to minimize air bubbles and rippling in and under the liner. I used hot glue as it gives and instant result. Any unsightly ripples or air pockets can be taken care of by slitting the liner and then gluing it down. This has an added benefit of causing some nice irregularities in the relatively uniform corrugation.
  4. Round off the corners of the card and cut little irregularities into the straight edges. You want the patch to be pretty much rectangular, but not mathematically perfect.
  5. Build up a raised rim in the space between the edge of the liner and the edge of the card. I used hot glue again as it produced an irregular finish and hardened/dried quickly.
  6. Coat the entire piece in white glue. Make sure to brush the glue along the furrows so as not to mute the detail too much but at the same time, don't be too uniform.
  7. Dip the whole thing in fine grit and let dry.
  8. Once the grit is dry, paint the whole thing with whatever color ground you feel is best. The paint will dry irregularly because of the sand and may require multiple coats. Let mostly dry.
  9. When the earth color is mostly dry, run a fresh coat around the raised rim of the garden patch and dip the whole thing in flocking or turf. The idea is to get an almost uniform covering on the rim, with just  few stray patches in the furrows.
  10. Apply two coats of spray sealer to affix the flocking.


The above steps will produce a very basic garden patch that is good for unplanted or fallow ground. the irregularities in the paint and the flocking make it almost unnecessary to dry brush or shade. I did try brushing some dark brown ink over some of the patches that wouldn't darken up enough, but it looked fine without.

If you wanted to make the garden more or less "alive" you can add plants and minimize the amount of flocking you allow in the furrows or you can do what I did on one and heavily flock the furrows and then brush them flock around, creating a clotted and disturbed earth effect. More foliage on the furrows could give it a truly overgrown effect. I think I'll try putting some poles and strings in one of them to suggest beans or peas. I have considered adding squash, pumpkins, or other resilient self-starting vegetables in some of them.

Take care,



  1. That is FANTASTIC looking.

    Where were you a year ago when I needed a cornfield from which to send animated scarecrows to chase my kids' characters? Sigh.

    Keep up the good work!

  2. Good tip! I never thought about using this for corrugated iron, and I have been trying to get some specialty cardstock for that for months now! Guess I need to order more pizza. Which pizza joint supplied yours?

  3. Pizza Hut has always delivered :)


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