Moderator's Note: The information and photos below were originally posted by MikeC and Bruce DeYoung ("Dutchman") in this thread:

The photos and text have been combined to present a single source of information. The original thread is still open for questions, comments, and discussion.

... although "Pot Toppers" has been discussed extensively both here on RR-L and other forums, some folks have posted they have trouble finding the stuff at Michaels... or they don't know what to look for. I can confirm from my own experience that even the store employees aren't sure what the stuff is or where it's located. The first employee I asked (when I had given up looking for the stuff on my own) looked at me as if I had spinach leaves hanging out of my nose. But she called over another employee who said she thought it would be in the 'Floral Department.' Great! Half the store is 'floral department.' Finally, the third employee I asked for help had a clue - once I described for her what the stuff looked like and made a circle with my thumbs and forefingers, she was able to lead me straight to the stuff. It was hanging from a peg in the middle of an aisle rack but was partially hidden from view by a bunch of other 'stuff' hanging down over it. I bought 2 packages and made my break. So, in the spirit of that experience, here's the label you should be looking for....

Pot Toppers are reversible. Green 'grass' on one side, brown 'dirt' on the other. This is what one looks like out of the bag....

The problem with trying to use one straight out of the bag is that except for the very large scales, these things are way too thick to be used with most scales, including HO. What I discovered was that they are essentially a 'sandwich,' with the grass on one side and the 'dirt' on the other side but with a polyester filling in the middle. The filling seems to be the same sort of stuff found in aquarium filters and pet toys. Anyway, after separating the outside layers, the filling needs to be removed. It's a messy job and is best done over newspapers or a trash can. Trust me. Here is a photo where I have removed about 90% of the filler from the grass side and still have a way to go....

What I discovered after removing as much of the filler as I could pull away is that the remaining pad is still too thick to be very useful (at least in HO scale). The grass fibers (rayon?) are okay, but the substrate and residual dirt on the bottom side are still too thick. That's when I happened to hit on the idea of sanding the pad down to a usable thickness. Because the pad is fairly delicate at this point, I used an emory board to thin down the 'dirt' particles on the substrate backing....

This small patch of grass, which I tore from the larger pad, is one example of how it looks after sanding and thinning....

Even with sanding and thinning down, I felt that the material is still too thick and coarse to be used by itself. In my opinion (and for my own uses), I thought it looked best when blended with other scenery materials, including WS ground foam and Scenic Express' Silflor tufts. Here are two examples where I used it on my Blue Sky/Riverside Logging diorama...

And for the sake of comparison, here are some Silflor tufts along a fence on the same diorama....

So for me (and speaking only for myself!), I think the Pot Toppers, with a little work, can be a very useful scenery item. But it's something that I think needs to be used with other scenery items or possibly blended into the scenic base with Sculptamold or Celluclay. But if nothing else, the material is a very inexpensive alternative to the far more expensive Silflor grass products that are commercially available.

For those who are interested in additional discussion and photos of Pot Topper scenery, here are a couple of links that might be useful:

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Well, I finally decided to give the old pot toppers a try. I've picked up quite a few just in case Michaels decides to drop them down the road.

Having read Mike's experiences in this thread, and remembering this quote:


So for me (and speaking only for myself!), I think the Pot Toppers, with a little work, can be a very useful scenery item. But it's something that I think needs to be used with other scenery items or possibly blended into the scenic base with Sculptamold or Celluclay.

I thought it might work well in conjunction with one of my favorite scenery items - ground goop.

I began by splitting the topper in half, separating the grass from the 'dirt', as Mike explained. I then 'teased' as much of the polyester filling as I could. Once that was done, I tore off pieces and glued them to my scenery base with white glue.

You can see the 'thickness problem' that Mike mentioned. Also, there is a tendency for the brown 'dirt' to show at the edges.

Next, I began to spread my goop around the patches of pot topper grass. This brings the ground level up to that of the topper and solves the thickness problem. It also hides the brown edges.

That plastic thing you see behind the grass clump is the base of an evergreen tree. Another nice thing about goop is the ability to cover up those bases.

Here the goop has been spread all around the island of pot topper grass.

Next I spread some very diluted white glue over the top of the goop with a 1/2" stiff brush. This (1) smooths the goop where I want it smoothed (the edges), and (2) give a good wet base to accept the next layers of ground cover.

Here I've added additional layers of WS foam over the goop. Some has also landed on top of the pot topper grass, but that will vacuum off once the glue dries.

Here's a picture with the tree inserted into its base.

These last two shots show the area adjacent to the one above. I had completed that earlier today.

So, I agree with Mike that the pot toppers have some real potential, even in HO scale. I also agree that they work best when combined with other scenery products. Finally, I think that ground goop does a great job of solving the thickness issue.