Saturday, August 29, 2009

Hedgerows. Simple, fast, and nearly indestructible.

Hey folks,

The following is a little "how to" for making Normandy hedgerows (Bocage). These can be made as the smaller, typical hedgerow you could find alongside any field in NW Europe, all the way up to the high banked, tree lined kind typical of the Bocage region of Normandy. These allow for trees to be placed or removed depending on how you want them to look for any given game.

These will be 28mm Hedgerows, but the same idea can be used to make any scale really. You just have to buy the appropriate size wood.

Materials needed:

1" wide flat strip of Basswood in 2' length (I use Basswood, rather than Balsa as it is tougher and doesn't warp as easily). This is the base.

2' long piece of "leading edge of wing" balsa (see pic). These are used by model plane builders for the leading edge of the wing. I found they make perfect hedgerow embankments! They come in various sizes and heights.

X-acto knife.

Sand or preferred texture material (I use model Railroad stuff in fine grade).

Small rocks (I use aquarium rocks, which just happen to be pink).


Static grass.

Woodland Scenics Foliage Clusters (I am using Medium Green for this).

Flat black spray paint.

Paint: Dark Brown (GW Scorched Brown, Yellow Ochre (GW Vomit Brown), Gray (GW Codex Gray) and White (GW Skull White).

CA Glue (I use Zap-A-Gap, pretty much the best glue ever made).

Wood glue.

You can make these hedgerows as generic or detailed as you like. You can add sections of stone wall (I used pieces of wall from Armourcast's Terraform line of terrain), fences, gates, openings, sections where tanks have broken through, bunkers, pretty much anything you like. The following is how to make them generic suitable for any table.

1. Cut the strips of flat base material (the 1" wide strip of Basswood) and the leading edge Balsa into the desired length. For this one, I made the hedgerow 12" long. I have also made 2' long sections, and "T" sections with each piece 6" long.

I use CA glue to glue the hedge to the base.

2. Once cut to size and glued in place, I cut the top of the hedge flat and make irregular cuts all along the tops and sides of the hedge, as well as rounding off the ends to give it a more natural shape. I also make sure to cut the base edge that sticks out at an angle so it will blend in with the table better.

3. Once the rough cutting is done, I sand the whole thing smooth.

4. After sanding, you can begin gluing the small rocks in place. I glue the rocks along the side in areas where the hedge has natural dips or folds or even exposed sections as well as on the ends. You can even glue them the entire way along the sides, but I like a little less rocks on mine.

I use the CA glue for this and then fix the glue instantly with CA instant set spray (sometimes called Zip Kicker).

5. With the small rocks glued down, now it is time to add texture to the whole piece. I glue around the rocks with CA glue and add texture first...

Then cover the whole rest of the exposed areas with Wood Glue and cover with texture. Here are a few example pieces finished and ready for painting. This "T" piece has a small gate.

6. Spray paint flat black, then dry brush with Dark Brown followed by Yellow Ochre. Paint the rocks with Gray followed by a drybrush of White. I also drill holes at this point. These holes are for plugging in Woodland Scenics ready made trees, or any other kind of tree you may want to use.

7. Glue down clumps of foliage clusters using CA glue. I use this glue on this part because it means these foliage clusters will stay put. I also leave gaps around the holes. Then around the base edge, I add wood glue followed by static grass to blend the hedgerow into your table top. Here I use a similar color to GW flock because my gaming mat is GW, so the colors blend together well. Noch makes a summer blend that is very close but is MUCH cheaper.

I use medium green foliage clusters for the whole piece. It may look uniform, but I found from the pics I see of the hedges in Normandy, that the bushes along the top often look a similar shade of green, while the trees are of a larger variety of type and color. I leave the trees I plug into the hedgerows to add variety of color. You may find that you want to add variety of color by using different colors of foliage clusters. Visually, I found the differences to create a bit too chaotic a look in color variation. Maybe I just have boring taste in foliage.

Here is the completed hedgerow below.

8. Add any extra details you like. I also spray mine with a flat sealer.

Here is a shot looking down the hedgeline and a shot of the completed hedgerow piece on the table.

The best thing about using these materials is the hedgerows are virtually indestructible. Even the bushes are glued very solidly to the hedge. Using Woodland Scenics clump foliage means no flaking of flock off of the bushes or fragile hedges made from other material like styrofoam. The wood base and solid balsa hedge make these suckers TOUGH!

I can put these in a box and transport them without ever having to worry about them breaking. I have seen all kinds of hedgerow tutorials, and they are all made from relatively fragile materials or made in a way that with too much use or transport you will lose flock or suffer damage (except those made cast in resin). I make all my stuff tough because I game with my scenery at my club and at conventions and everything has to be easily transported. I hope you find this useful for quickly and easily making the toughest hedgerows around!


  1. Keith,

    Great tutorial! I think that the two guys in our group who are our Crossfire leaders may use this tutorial to improve their scenary. I've sent them the link.


  2. Love the use of the balsa wood, the hedges look great!

  3. Great work on this! Thanks for the tutorial

  4. These are the best hedgerows, period. I've heard you describe the process, but it's great to have a pictorial that everyone can use.

  5. Thanks! Glad the pictoral is useful. I plan to take some more pics of the ones I have finished with trees and other details to show what else can be done with them.

  6. Nice! Definitely more sturdy than my grape stem hedges.

  7. Neat work... thanks for the suggestion on TMP!

  8. These look fantastic. Do you happen to remember what size the leading edge balsa was? I'd like to make some in similar dimensions myself.

  9. Not sure on the size unfortunately. I ended up with a few different sizes because I wasn't paying much attention when I bought them. I think the largest was about an inch tall.

  10. Not sure on the size unfortunately. I ended up with a few different sizes because I wasn't paying much attention when I bought them. I think the largest was about an inch tall.

  11. Great idea, be stealing that!