A popular trend in model railroading is using equipment and accessories that are rugged enough to stand up to the weather to build outdoor railroad layouts. The term “garden railroads” stems from the fact that these outdoor layouts are often integrated into a garden, with the garden providing part or all of the scenery and landscaping.
The basic structure and design of the railroad is very similar to what you would use indoors, but there are some differences worth noting.
First, garden railroads must be rugged enough to stand up to the weather and stay in use over the long term. Depending on the climate, these trains may be run for much of the year and they need to be able to withstand that kind of use.
Along those lines, you also need to be sure that the equipment and railroad is built in a way that is easy to maintain. Integrating it into your garden can be a lot of work, but having to take it back out to repair it can be even more.
Garden railroads originate from Europe where they started with G-scale models but they are popular all over the world. Because of this, G-scale trains and accessories are much easier to find than they were in the past.
There are events and conventions dedicated to Garden Railways, such as the Garden Railway Convention held each year in Denver. A calendar of these events can be found on http://www.gardentrains.org or in the events section of http://www.trains.com.
Garden railroads can make a great addition to your backyard, strictly for your own enjoyment, or they can be added to more public places where everyone can enjoy them. Just be prepared for the crowds of onlookers if you set it up somewhere that anyone can see!