So, no sense in posting pics of the tank fully planted just yet since it's a cloudy mess, but I got all the planting into the substrate done today (thanks to the generosity of the local members
For the hardscape, I ended up going with a variation of #2 that I had posted earlier. I wasn't convinced that it looked natural enough, so I shifted some things around, trimmed some branches, and ended up with this:
I think it does a pretty good job as far as mimicking roots going down into the substrate...looks better than it did before at least. Also, got the "stumps" to wrap around each other, and the pieces seem to fall into place alot more naturally overall. At least IMHO
I'll get more pics up once things settle...which may take a while since there's currently no filter in there. Definitely noticed some bubbling coming through the substrate...good to know that gas is able to escape...but it may not clear up for a couple days.