Gardening and model railroading; these are two of our favorite hobbies, and they are being combined by many to create garden railways. A number of botanic gardens are adding garden railways to their landscape plans, and you can too. As with all parts of your landscaping, it just takes planning.
You can design a garden railway to suit your landscape and your budget. The scale of the trains depends on the space you have available and the size of the landscape in which you want to put your railroad. If you are planning on an area of limited space where the plants are small, then a smaller scale railroad would look better.
One of the keys to getting started is to plan big, but start small. If you try to buy everything you need for an elaborate railroad at one time, you will quickly become frustrated with both the scope of the project, and how much money it costs. The simplest layout is a circle. If you just want to get your feet wet, this might be a good, easy place to start.
When planning, you need to consider the gauge, or size, of the trains you want to use. Too small and your trains will get lost in the surrounding plantings. Plus, it doesn’t take much debris on the tracks to derail a small, lightweight train. Larger scales of trains look more proportional to the landscape.
Must-Have Railroad Features
There are a number of eye-catching features you should consider when planning your garden railroad. Two that you should try to include are a bridg and a tunnel. A bridge or trestle over a “ravine” in your garden or over a water feature of your garden can be very striking. A tunnel can either be a real tunnel, or it can be simulated by having the tracks surrounded by taller plants or stones to hide the trains as they pass through the area. The major problem with a real tunnel is that many of the small animals in the area may consider it an ideal nesting area.
The weather in your location will play a major role in the design and implementation of your railroad. You can generally run trains if a light rain or mist is occurring, but the trains should be protected from a heavy rainstorm. Winter railroading is another challenge. Some garden railroaders actually mount plows to their trains to clear the tracks of snow.
There are many things to consider before setting up a garden railroad. Spend the time to do research to decide if this is something you really want to do.