Is there some easier way to place foliage like you can in unity?
Use a particle system using objects and make instances of it.
1)Set blender to “Blender Render”.
2)Go to the particle tab and apply a particle system
3)Now in the particle tab:
-Emission: start = 0, end = 0
-Render>>Object, and select the object, that replace the particles with the selected object.
4)Make all that particles instanced, 3d vierport>>Object>>Apply>>Make duplicates real.
Make sure press “play animation” in the timeline to generate the particles.
if you change the particle type from emitter to hair you wont have to play the animation.