Bocage Hedgerows Á La Tim
Materials References Procedure Return to Terrain Page
If the three pictures immediately below do not show, the server on which they reside may be temporarily down

A table with bocage scenery
Cromwells wend their way through a sunken road in the bocage CLose up of the Cromwell column and a Crossfire platoon commander stand


Materials (Top of Page)Return to Terrain Page
Materials Comments/Stuff I Used/Pics
Furnace Filter Furnace Filter - click for larger imageClick on the pic here for a larger view - this is the washable, reusable furnace filter you should be able to get at a hardware store.  Mine came in a dark blue colour, but there might be other colours available.
Large Scissors to Cut Filter Any largish pair of scissors, doesn't need to be expensive, but helps if they are sharp.
Base Material - Pink Styrofoam Blue styrofoam can also be used.  Of course I don't ever recommend use of the white beady stuff you often find as packaging material, it just doesn't hold up.  I suppose you could also use something else, as long as it can be shaped, painted and flocked.
Something to Cut/Shape (a lot of) Styrofoam I use a combination of a heat gun and a coping saw.  The latter is probably the easiest to get hold of.  If you can think of other ways to cut styrofoam, all the better.
Spray Paint Cans of various colours I used the following: 
  • Testor's light earth (for the earth bases)
  • Testor's brown spray
  • Krylon light tan spray
Flock for Base This is the usual stuff you might use to flock infantry stands and terrain.  I usually use the fine flock and static grasses from Woodland Scenics, sand, kitty litter, etc.
Flock for Hedges Coarse flock - click for larger imageCoarse flock - click for larger imageYou might choose something else, but I used Woodland Scenics" coarse flock, which is basically cut up and dyed sponge.  I used two colours, medium green and light green.

Here is a picture of the bottles mine came in and a close up of the flock itself.  Click on either picture for full size.

Adhesive for Flock I use Scenic Cement from Woodland Scenics.  I'm sure watered down PVA or whatever other glue you use for flock will work just fine.  You'll use lots of this!  Other glue such as undiluted PVA and/or Tacky Glue will also be helpful.
Toothpicks I prefer the round ones as they are sturdier.  You'll be breaking/cutting these, so don't drop bits of em in the carpet otherwise you'll get a tutorial on the effects of pungi sticks - I'm speaking from experience!
Glue Gun & Glue I used a high temperature gun, but I expect low temperature guns will work as well.

Web and Other References (Top of Page)Return to Terrain Page
I was provided with some excellent descriptions and URL cites for this from the good folks who participate in the forums at The Miniatures Page and on the Crossfire Yahoo Group. The links and picture below were my chief references, but there were other great descriptions which really helped me understand how the bocage affected combat and some great pictures of other wargamers' efforts, but very unfortunately, I didn't book mark these.

Fighting in Normandy - a reproduction of a 1944 article which gives a very good description and cross section of typical hedgerows.  Also various tactics used to fight through them.

Normandy Battlefield Tours - There are some excellent pictures here - you can navigate the map of Normandy or click on the list of photos on this page for some close up pictures of hedgerows as well as some very useful aerial shots.

CArentanDennis Cunningham of New York, New York, a participant on TMP, sent me this excellent photo from a walk from Carentan to Ste Mere Eglise in early November.  Click on the image here for a full sized version.



Procedure (Top of Page)Return to Terrain Page
The bocage hedgerows were thick hedges that had grown and tangled for many, many years atop earth banks that had been piled up over the centuries to divide farm fields.  Thus you need to represent the earth wall base and the hedge.  So there are three major parts to creating a section of hedge:

    1. Create the base;

    2. Shape and flock the furnace filter; and

    3. Join the two.

Steps 1 and 2 can be done in reverse order; if you are doing a lot of these, it helps alleviate the tedium by alternating the order in which you do these.  8)

The picture below shows my wargame room in total disarray!  I'm sure you don't need to do things in as messy a fashion as this!

Scroll below it for more text on how the hedgerows are made.

Tim's wargame room and table with bocage making activity!

In the picture, in the foreground to the left, can be seen some of the furnace filter hedgerow, spray painted before flocking.  In the foreground, there are a few bases in the process of being flocked.

Note that for the "aerial" photo of one of my bocage tables at the top of this page, the bocage hedgerow section is about half of a 9' by 5' ping pong table, though it looks like it covers more, due to the angle of the photograph from above and at one end of the table.  To accomplish what is shown, I had to create 18 to 20 feet of hedgerow sections and this does not include the lichen shown at the edges (which I used to avoid sweater sleeves and tummies leaning over the board from catching a hedgerow section and knocking it on the floor).

1. Create The Base

I cut sections of about 3" to 6" long from the styrofoam.  I based my height and with dimensions on the Fighting in Normandy site, which states the banks were from 4 to 6 feet high and 8 to 10 feet wide.  For my 1:72 stuff, I just used a standing figure for reference and "eyeballed" my cuts.  I made sure the banks were irregular in height.

If you use a coping saw, I find a palm sander or just hand held sand paper of medium grit works wonders to smooth things out if you find you've too many sharp edges.

I sprayed the base with Testor's light earth and used my normal flocking techniques.  Use your imagination here - I added some culverts, lots of rocks, static grass, clumped foliage (Woodland Scenics stuff), etc.  The flock colour I used mostly was the blended earth mix, but I also sprinkled other colours.  I am a great believer in not relying on one single flock colour, regardless of what I'm trying to represent.

2. Shape and Flock the Furnace Filter

Make sure the bits of filter you cut match the length of the base.  I tended to have the filter length be a "little bit" shorter than the base so that when the finished sections were placed side by side you wouldn't get tanglement! Filter - click for full sizeHere is a view of the furnace filter up close.  The shot on the right shows the netting that is on the back of the filter which you should peel off after you cut a length of this stuff.  Once you cut the filter to length, cut the top edge unevenly.  Then pull apart the top edge a bit, teasing it out so it's wider at the top than at the bottom.  The bottom should match the shape of the base if you've made the bank very uneven, but minor variations in height of the base won't matter much.

HOW HIGH?  From the above photos and various folk on TMP who've physically been to this area of France, a rule of thumb was about as high as a man standing on the roof of a Sherman can overlook, higher in some places.  Some of my filter sections I cut to have nearly a space going through it, ie, part of the filter was cut into the shape of a scraggly tree.

Next, grab a dark colour spray (I used brown) and spray the cut piece of filter.  The spray paint will go through - remember this filter is designed to pass air.  Let it dry and then go over very lightly and quickly with the light tan spray colour.  The quick pass will give a result similar to dry brushing.

LET BOTH COLOURS DRY THOROUGHLY before you flock.  This is because the coarse sponge flock will soak up wet paint and adapt that colour instead of staying green.  I mention this, because with the fine flock I normally use for terrain, I often sprinkle it over wet paint to help it bond, but don't do this with spongy flock!

Spray/apply lots of scenic cement over the top and top sides of the furnace filter.  You can also glob undiluted PVA or other adhesive.  Grab the different coarse flock and flock!  My wife April, an artist, advised me to use DARK colours for the sides of the hedge and LIGHT colours for the top to represent the sunlight shading.  It's OK, desirable, even, if the lower branches of the furnace filter don't get flock.  They will represent the bare branches of the hedge - see some of the close up photos top of this page.

3. Join the Two Pieces

To do this, toothpicks work wonders.  Break/cut off an appropriate length and jam them into the base.  I usually use two toothpicks per section.  Liberally gob glue from the glue gun onto the toothpicks then guide the hedge over top of it.  Be careful here as the filter often wants to lean to one side!

Give the whole thing a final thorough spray of scenic cement.

Other Considerations

Based on the photos of hedgerows and trees arching across roadways in some of the reference photos, I created some very large trees as can be seen above.  I interspersed these throughout the layout.  I started off buying a Woodland Scenics tree kit called "Giant Oak" for HO scale.  These were mounted on styrofoam bases that raised them up so they were rising out of a bank similar in height to the hedgerow banks.  I burned holes in the bottom of these bases and glue gunned several large washers to weight the top heavy trees down.  For trees made after the Woodland Scenic giant oaks, I used a blob of styrofoam as an armature and glue gunned huge amounts of lichen.  A thick twig from the backyard completed the tree.


Back to Top of Page

Return to Terrain Page