Too often, in a rush to run trains, modelers start with a piece of plywood, and nail track down. That limits any chance for realistic scenic elements, such as rivers, creeks, and drainage. Always start with foam on top of the plywood.
Railroads would love a straight line from terminal to destination, but thats impossible. So if your track curves, why does it? Natural landforms or man made obstacles dictated the route of the real ones, so make your curves for a reason.
Civilization began near the water, and so did most cities, and eventually the railroad. Model a river or a creek for better realism.
The earth ISN'T flat!! So add some visual interest with hills. My youtube videos show step by step how easy and fun it is.
I don't have a great imagination, so I rely on phots of the area I want to model. You'd be surprised at how often things are different from what we remember.
So many of my Youtube videos focus on how to make amazing and realistic scenery. Watch this one on Youtube and then see my PLAYLIST for scenery and watch them all. Like & Subscribe!