The hump yard looked like this for over ten years with just ballast for scenery. This would be correct for the dry Southwest and I left it that way so my customers could see the HO “fine” ballast colours of #1222 yard mix and #1152 Empire Builder overlaid in the foreground. This is the first step no matter how you scenic a yard as the ballast is the base before adding more to it.
The Eastern/Midwest look
A whole host of color and texture brings life to the scene as this railroad doesn’t spray herbicide to kill weeds and grass. I used the following products for this effect; #1031 “N” scale Black Cinder, #1011 “N” scale Red Cinder, #1151 “N” scale Empire Builder ballast, #2000 Urban/Industrial Dirt. This was applied randomly and then brushed around to (slightly) mix the colours. #2 Dead and Alive ground cover, #8 Olive Green Flock, #4 Straw Grass clippings and #1321 “N” scale White Marble for the spilt sand from the engine sanders. The Clump foliage is a sample from a scenery company that never made it a product. All nine products are put down dry and then bonded in one application. It’s hard to tell, but 50 per cent of the original ballast still shows through so you need to PRE ballast the tracks anyway and let that dry completely.