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I’m starting a small 2’x2’ layout with one loop, N scale, for a small Christmas tree to sit on. I have a Durango steam engine so I’m going to get a cabin to build, some trees, etc.. I’m also going to put some ballast down. But undecided on mat vs paint for the foam base. The mat seems easiest but not the “realist”. But painting I guess I’d have to put some grass down too? Thoughts? Opinions?
 

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It depends on the degree of realism you want. If it's just a holiday layout for fun, easy is the way to go. If you want realistic scenery, then paint and scale grass would look much better, along with some other scenic touches...rocks, drainage ditch, trees, etc.
 
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