Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
Garden railroads have become increasingly popular in recent years. While artificial plants are fine for indoor railroads, one longs for authenticity outdoors. This can only be provided by live plants.
Succulents are a perfect choice for these landscape plantings. Creating a mini landscape for a backyard railroad requires some thought. Evaluate the site carefully so that you can provide good drainage to these succulents.
Both compact and low growing succulent species fit very nicely in a garden railroad landscape scheme. For specific recommendations on plants see the related articles on garden railroad succulent plants.
Visit Garden Railroad Shows and Exhibits
These shows are becoming more common in many areas of the country. A number of botanical gardens host garden railroad shows. This is particularly true at Christmas time. Visit these to get ideas on how to create your own garden railroad landscape with succulents.
Sources of Information
There are both books and magazines on garden railroads. For anyone who wants to create a garden railroad with succulents and other living plants, I recommended these sources. They’re sure to inspire you.
Designing the Garden Railroad Using Succulents
This is no different than any other landscape design project. All of the usual design principles (repetition and so on) apply. Once the mini railroad installation is complete, you can begin measuring the area and coming up with preliminary drawings.
A garden railroad has two basic purposes. One is to incorporate the railroad into its surroundings in the backyard. The other is to be sure that all of the individual features of the railroad are landscaped properly. The different features include not only the bridges, tracks, trellises, and water towers but also all the buildings. These typically include train stations, storage buildings, and homes. Typically, a garden railroad features various kinds of plantings just as you would see in a regular landscape. These include ground covers along banks as well as rock gardens, wall gardens, hedges, and mini groves of trees or shrubs. Plants can also serve as focal points within the landscape.
It is essential that the landscape be in scale with the railroad. For that reason, compact and low growing succulents are preferred. Slow growing ones are preferred as aggressive species can quickly overwhelm the railroad.
Preparing the Site for Planting
Prepare the soil properly before planting. Gravel and stone should be added if drainage is a problem.