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Garden Railroad Planning Articles Garden Railroading Primer Articles: All about getting a Garden Railroad up and running well Garden Train Store: Index to train, track, and other products for Garden Railroading
Large Scale Starter Sets: Begin with a train you'll be proud to run Best Choices for Beginning Garden Railroaders: a short list of things you're most likely to need when starting out
Large Scale Track order Form Sturdy buildings for your garden railroad.
Large Scale Christmas Trains: Trains with a holiday theme for garden or professional display railroads.Free Large Scale Signs and Graphics: Bring your railroad to life with street signs, business signs, and railroad signs
Garden Railroading Books, Magazines, and Videos: Where to go to learn even more
Collectible Trains and Villages: On30 Trains and accessories designed by Thomas Kinkade and others

Written by Paul D. Race for Family Garden Trains(tm)
































Garden Railroad Planning Articles

Designing a garden railroad is more individual that almost any other creative enterprise. Most garden railroads include engineering, horticulture, history, landscaping, and pond culture, all combined in one or two people's imagination. There are far too many aspects of the hobby for one person to do them all well, so each garden railroad eventually reflects the core interests of the garden railroader(s).

That's one reason we can't put together just one chapter about planning your garden railroad. There are two other reasons:

  • The environment for outdoor railroaders isn't as predictable as the environment for indoor railroaders. No two gardens are the same, and no single garden is the same from one year to the next.
  • As you learn about landscaping and gardens and outdoor railroading all at the same time, your priorities will shift, and you'll start focusing on aspects of your garden railroad that weren't important to you before, while, frankly, "neglecting" others. Better that you and your railroad grow together than that you do all your planning at once from your armchair.

There is also a difference between planning the "look and feel" of your railroad and planning the infrastructure. As an example, you may want it to look like your railroad is climbing steep mountains, but your railroad will run better if you achieve that effect by having the track fairly level while the mountains "rise and fall" around it. And no matter how clever your track plan is, your turnouts need to be in the right places, or you'll spend more time than you should putting your trains back on the track. In short, our goal is to help you plan a railroad that will give you maximum enjoyment in the long run. Click to go to article

  • Building a Garden Railroad on a Budget - Includes information on creating an overall "project" plan for building your railroad in affordable stage. Updated February, 2008

  • Plan Your Railroad's Layout and InfrastructureClick to go to article.

  • Plan Your Railroad's "Look and Feel"

    • Click to go to article.Real-World Trains You can Model - What kind of railroad do you want to model? This is a summary of your basic choices, followed by a list of reading resources for learning more. We also have links to our own articles on unusual railroads you may find inspiring, including:

    • Click to go to article. Which Scale Should I Model? - Explains why so many different kinds and scales of train all run on the same track, and provides guidelines to help you find the best combination for your needs. Updated September, 2009

    • Click to go to article.Themes, Conventions, and Willing Suspension of Disbelief - Develop an "artistic vision" for your railroad that will help it be more rewarding to you and more interesting to visitors. Includes a review of literary and theme park design principles that anyone can apply - Updated April, 2008, with many new photos and examples.

Planning-Related Ideas from Other Folks

As always, please contact us with questions, corrections, additions, suggestions, or for any other reason at all.

Best of luck, all,

Paul D. Race


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