A graveyard is a place where people are buried. The word “graveyard” comes from the Greek word koimeterion, which means bedroom or resting place.

Historically, a graveyard was affiliated with a church. Therefore, only members of that religion could be buried there. Cemeteries, on the other hand, are not tied to any particular faith and can be much more expansive.

What is a graveyard?

People often use the terms graveyard and cemetery interchangeably. However, if you are planning your own end-of-life arrangements, it is important to understand the differences between these two burial sites.

For starters, a graveyard is typically located on church property and only allows traditional burials. A cemetery, on the other hand, is a large burial ground that is not attached to a church. It also allows cremation and ashes burials.

Moreover, a graveyard tends to have older tombstones and is often unkempt. Cemeteries, on the other hand, are usually newer and more organized.

The difference between a graveyard and a cemetery is important to know because it will impact your decision-making process. Especially if you are considering joining your loved ones in a specific location after your passing. Make sure your next of kin understands the difference between these two sites, so they can carry out your end-of-life wishes. Create a free Cake end-of-life planning profile and share your wishes instantly with family members.

Where is a graveyard located?

For some, it may seem like the words graveyard and cemetery are interchangeable — but for those who choose to honor their loved ones in a traditional manner with a casket or urn burial, there is a difference between these two types of final resting places. The main differences between a graveyard and a cemetery are their location, religion, and whether they are tied to a church.

Traditionally, graveyards are located within the grounds of a church. This is because, until about the 7th century in Europe, burials were firmly controlled by the church and could only take place on consecrated church ground.

As populations in Europe began to grow, church burial grounds quickly filled up, and independent sites called cemeteries were developed. As a result, those who were buried in a cemetery weren’t necessarily church members. Today, many people are buried in both a graveyard and a cemetery, depending on their preferences.

What is a cemetery?

A cemetery is a place where individuals are buried, or in some cases entombed in mausoleum crypts or sarcophagi. Many people visit cemeteries to pay their respects, offer prayers or simply seek solace in a serene environment. Graveyards also serve as historical sites, showcasing the evolution of burial practices and memorialization over time.

While the two terms are often used interchangeably, there are subtle differences. The term graveyard is typically associated with smaller, older or church-associated burial grounds, while the term cemetery refers to larger, more modern and secular burial spaces.

The etymology of the word “graveyard” is fairly straightforward; it literally means a yard filled with graves. The word cemetery, on the other hand, is derived from the Greek word koimeterion, meaning bedroom or resting place. The development of the term cemetery came about as church-affiliated graveyards became full and new, independent burial grounds were needed. As the population of Europe grew, the capacity of church-affiliated graveyards began to run out, and completely new burial places popped up, including those that were more secular.

What is the difference between a graveyard and a cemetery?

There are many words that are often misused or used interchangeably, especially when it comes to death and funerals. Understanding the difference between a graveyard and a cemetery will help you be clear when explaining your end-of-life plans to your next of kin.

The word graveyard originally referred to a burial ground that adjoined a church. As churchyards became full, new burial grounds were established outside of the church and these are now referred to as cemeteries.

Cemeteries are generally more secular and can have fewer restrictions on the headstones that may be used. They can also be much larger than a graveyard.

As the practice of cremation becomes more accepted, the distinction between a cemetery and a graveyard may become less important. However, if you want to stick with linguistic precision, then it is better to use the term graveyard for a burial ground within a churchyard and to refer to a cemetery as an unaffiliated burial site.

Cemetery Design

A cemetery needs to have a master plan that addresses how the different elements will be incorporated into the property. The plan is a great way to show visitors what is available, as well as help in marketing the property.

Modern cemetery design must think beyond a place to lay a grave; it is a vibrant celebration of life, family, history and individuality. Harboring lands to avoid runoff, introducing forestry alongside burial grounds are examples of this.

Landscape Design

Landscape design is one of the most important aspects of a cemetery. It creates an environment that is both beautiful and meaningful for visitors. It also helps people to navigate the cemetery with ease.

For example, creating scenic vistas with an end terminus like a mausoleum or chapel and an intermediate terminus such as an estate garden or water feature can provide a clear sense of direction throughout the cemetery. Well-designed plantings with appropriate climate, soil conditions and flow are another way to enhance a cemetery’s landscape design.

Cemetery owners should take the time to think about their landscape design in a holistic way, ensuring that the cemetery is both functional and interesting for all of its visitors. Upfront investments in sustainable landscaping such as changing over from asphalt to permeable roads, switching to organic fertilizers and avoiding invasive species can reduce maintenance costs. Similarly, creating natural or man-made ponds can help to control storm water drainage and provide a habitat for wildlife.

Burial Space Design

Burial space design in a cemetery includes all spaces used for interment of caskets, urns and cremation ashes. Cemetery design should be sensitive to the emotional needs of visitors and respect the cultural and architectural context.

Cemetery layout and design can also consider other types of interment products including mausoleums, lawn crypts and columbarium niches. Cemetery layout and design should take into account population trends in your community to best provide interment products to meet the needs of families and friends.

Proper grading is essential to ensure that water flows away from grave sites and buildings. This can be accomplished by designing drainage systems that include subsoil drains, reed bed construction and surface water catch all designs.

Excel is a popular choice for managing cemetery data and transitioning from paper records, but it was not designed to be a comprehensive cemetery management solution. Moving to software like Chronicle, which is purpose-built for cemetery mapping and data management, can improve efficiency, accuracy and overall management.

Monument Design

The monument design process allows bereaved families to commemorate their loved ones in a variety of ways. Each family’s needs and budget are considered. Inscriptions, religious symbols and other details all add up to the final product. Monuments can come in a number of shapes and sizes including the traditional upright monument, slant style memorial or foot marker.

Meisner: Cemetery design should take advantage of natural features on the site. Water features, wooded hillsides or high points are just a few examples of what can be incorporated into the master plan. These unique areas can become the focal point for the cemetery as visitors view them.

Cremation has given rise to a number of new options for cemetery use, including columbaria and interment gardens. These types of burials can utilize less land and are much less disruptive to the natural systems on a cemetery property. They can also be designed to create a sense of place for the community, as well as work with the existing landscape.

Signage Design

Modern cemetery design moves beyond a place to lay a coffin; it must be a vibrant celebration of life, family and history. It must also express a new way of thinking about death and individuality integrated within a community.

Cemeteries with natural landscape features such as lakes and ponds have the opportunity to provide a serene environment that invites connection with nature, families and communities. These features are also opportunities for environmental stewardship.

A cemetery’s master plan must consider all of these factors. Too often, cemetery development obliterates the unique setting to create a typical cemetery like those along every highway outside of cities and towns across America. Instead, we encourage our clients to find a niche in their landscape and be unique with their cemetery. This differentiation will help them attract more people who will want to visit and support the success of the master plan. This can be achieved by implementing a number of cemetery signs to guide visitors, as well as by using interpretive maps with clear, simple language.


Cemeteries are a great place to visit loved ones, reminisce, and communicate with the deceased. They provide a serene environment and create a bond that helps with the grieving process.

It is a good idea to bring a map of the cemetery and write down the locations of the graves. This will help you avoid searching the same places again.


Until recently, nearly all burials took place within church-affiliated graveyards. However, as the populations of cities and towns grew and these sites began to fill up, it became necessary to create new places of rest that were unaffiliated with churches. This led to the creation of cemeteries.

Cemeteries are generally not attached to a specific denomination as church-affiliated graveyards are, and they are often located away from city or town centers for increased space. Their etymology stems from the Greek word koimeterion which means sleep or resting place.

Occasionally, a cemetery will also contain a mausoleum, which is a separate structure from the grounds and may or may not be religious. The management of a cemetery involves the allocation of space for burials, digging and filling graves, constructing headstones or plaques, and the care and maintenance of the grounds and landscape. The majority of the work is done by the surviving family or friends of the deceased person.


A cemetery has a long history. Before the invention of mass transportation, people had to travel long distances to visit their loved ones who were buried in far-away graveyards. This also meant that burials were crowded and posed health risks.

After the 7th century, churches controlled burials and allowed them only on church land. This led to the development of the graveyard, which was usually located beside or behind a church. Because of space restrictions, graveyards were smaller and were choosier about who was buried there.

In the 1700s, new cemeteries began to open outside of city centers and towns. The landscaped cemeteries became more popular as people wanted to have a more natural and peaceful place to honor their deceased loved ones. Cemeteries were also a great place for socializing and community gatherings. This StoryMap gives a glimpse of how these places were once used in the past. Burial records were also kept at these locations to record the interment of dead persons.


Although the terms cemetery and graveyard are often used interchangeably, there are significant differences between these two sites. A graveyard is affiliated with a church and is usually located on church property. As a result, churches may have stringent stipulations about which faiths can be buried in their graveyards. In addition, church-owned graveyards are typically smaller and may have older tombstones that are not as well manicured as those found in a cemetery.

A cemetery is generally more organized than a graveyard and is often able to offer a greater selection of burial options, services and memorialization. A cemetery may also have a system in which plots are numbered and grouped into sections. As a result, people who are looking for a specific grave may be able to find it using a map provided by the cemetery. In addition, a cemetery may keep a record of each burial in order to track headstones. Making a rubbing of a tombstone is a great way to study its inscription, however, it is important to remember that even chalk can be damaging to a stone. Taking a photograph is a better alternative.


Whether it is a monumental cemetery, memorial park, garden cemetery or natural or green burial ground, a cemetery offers many services to its customers. Some of the services include obtaining permits and other necessary documentation, opening and closing graves, digging and excavating the interment space, installing and removing lowering devices, backfilling and sodding the grave site, and regrading and leveling if needed.

Historically, churches were entirely responsible for burials, and thus churchyards were located on their premises. However, as population growth was rapid, churches began to run out of space, and independent cemeteries were established as final resting places. This also allowed people of all religious backgrounds to be buried there, unlike the limited options offered in churchyards.

Regardless of where you choose to be buried, make sure your loved ones are aware of your wishes by creating a free Cake end-of-life planning profile and sharing it instantly. You can also find out more about the differences between a cemetery and graveyard by comparing their features side-by-side.


Cemeteries provide historical, memorial, spiritual and aesthetic landscapes and burial spaces. They also serve as habitats for flora and fauna.

Depending on the cemetery, you may find a map of the grounds online or at the visitor’s center. It’s a good idea to start at one end of the cemetery and make a pattern as you search for a grave.


While it is common to use the words ‘graveyard’ and ‘cemetery’ interchangeably, technically they are two different types of burial grounds. The word ‘graveyard’ is older and traditionally used to describe a burial ground that adjoins a church, while ‘cemetery’ refers to independent sites that are not affiliated with a particular place of worship.

Cemeteries are generally larger than graveyards, and they offer a wider variety of burial options like cremation. They also typically provide more services for mourning families, like memorial events and monuments.

They can be public or private, religious or secular, for-profit or not-for-profit, and may include a cemetery fund to ensure financial viability in perpetuity. They can also be organized into various styles and sizes based on geography, religious beliefs, social attitudes, and aesthetic and sanitary considerations. The style of a cemetery reflects the cultural practices that surround death. It can be a stark reminder of mortality or a place of serene repose.


Inherently liminal sites that exist between past and future, life and death, earth and heaven, cemetery architecture serves as an architectural canvas to convey grand social and metaphysical ideas. They speak of a culture’s attitudes toward mortality, often mirroring its broader design trends.

From the Greek Revival period (revived in the mid 1800’s) through neoclassical design, architects used the clean lines of Doric, Ionic and Corinthian orders to symbolize a connection with the past and a belief in the afterlife. Similarly, the art deco movement of the 1920’s reflected a desire for modernism.

Today, contemporary cemetery structures and crematoria are built in a minimal or Modernist style, often with exposed raw materials like brick or concrete stone. As such, they’re simple and minimal in design, with few decorative features to distract from the serene and peaceful experience of a visit. Often, a pond is placed at the entrance to control traffic and create a boulevard that orchestrates a slow, reflective experience that can guide visitors through a specific cemetery’s unique traditions, such as an avenue of donated American burial flags.


A walk through a cemetery can be a sobering experience, but it can also be a chance to find out more about your ancestors. In addition to the standard name, birth date, and death date, many headstones are embellished with symbols that may hold a special meaning for the deceased person or their family.

Angels are a common symbol found on gravestones. They are thought to be messengers between God and man, and they are often depicted holding wings open as a sign of heavenward flight. A weeping angel denotes grief, particularly over an untimely death.

A pillar signifies a long and successful life, but when it is shown broken or incomplete it suggests a short and tragic life. The mighty oak, with leaves and acorns, symbolizes strength, honor, and steadfastness. A thistle indicates Scottish descent, while the gilded star symbolises hope and dreams. The chrisma is a cross-like shape formed by the combination of two Greek letters, chi (X) and rho (P), which correspond to the CH and R in the word Christi, hence a symbol for Jesus Christ.


The maintenance of a cemetery involves lawn care, amenities and adding gravesites. Depending on the type of cemetery, this may involve mowing developed cemetery lawns, spraying and suppressing weeds as needed in accordance with county agriculture regulations, cleaning tombstones, making repairs to cemetery owned buildings, mausoleums, and columbaria as work scheduling and resources permit, and landscaping, tree maintenance and planting.

Decorations at a cemetery are usually subject to a variety of rules and regulations. They must not create a safety hazard, interfere with or impede maintenance, or diminish the overall look of the cemetery. In some instances, decorations must be removed four times a year, in February, June, September and November to prevent their decay or damage.

It is also the responsibility of each family to monitor their own grave or memorial site for proper care and maintenance. The old adage that the squeaky wheel gets the oil applies to cemetery care, too. If a family member’s grave is not getting the attention it needs, a complaint to the cemetery office can help.

memorial park

The Memorial Park uses dignified engraved markers lying flat on landscaped plots to honor those who have passed away. The expansive setting provides an environment that is less about mourning and more of a life celebration.

The memorial commemorates the 1,220 Florida soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice in World War I. The statue was designed by Charles Adrian Pillars and dedicated in 1922.


A countryside treasure nestled in the heart of eastern Indianapolis, Memorial Park offers extraordinary rural beauty in a serene setting. The park was named after John Chavis, a free Black man who moved to Raleigh in 1809. The site later became the location of two prominent African American educational institutions: the Raleigh Institute (today’s Shaw University) and Saint Augustine’s Normal School and Collegiate Institute (today’s Saint Augustine’s University).

A flagpole flies over a plaque listing 140 names of servicemen from Clarke County who died in World War II and 21 who lost their lives in the first World War. The Gold Star Monument is the newest addition to the Park, honoring veterans who served in the Vietnam War. The Memorial Park also houses one of the Village’s most beautiful September 11th memorials.

The Memorial Walls

Unlike other monuments that rise above the landscape, this wall lies close to the ground and reflects the faces of those who visit. Its design honors the lives of those who served and died.

The memorial’s twin gates, a statue and the 168 chairs represent those killed or missing in the attack. Each chair is inscribed with the name of a person who was killed on that floor of the building.

This park is filled with miles of multi-use trails, a ‘picnic’ loop and rugby or softball fields. But it’s the names inscribed on the Memorial Wall that bring people here from around the country and world. Every Staten Island family, regardless of where their loved ones are interred, will be able to inscribe a name on the Memorial Wall.

The Bald Eagle Statue

A majestic symbol of strength and freedom, this eagle statue has a wingspan that is over 2-feet wide. The bronze bald eagle is electroplated to provide added strength and durability and mounted on a dark wood museum mount.

This regal bird of prey is an amazing work by award-winning artist Crosa. Its detailed sculpting captures the moment a bald eagle snatches a fish from the water, flying through the air with extraordinary speed and grace.

This Design Toscano heirloom-quality patriotic wildlife sculpture is cast and crafted one piece at a time using the lost wax method, which highlights every detail of its sculpt and guarantees lasting beauty. Its enduring beauty is enhanced by a hand-applied multidimensional color patina. The statue is made to withstand the elements, so it can be placed indoors or out.

The Gold Star Monument

The Gold Star Monument honors the families of servicemen and women who have lost loved ones in military conflicts. This is the first one of its kind in Michigan and was developed in cooperation with the Hershel “Woody” Williams Medal of Honor Foundation.

The monument is made of black granite, and each back panel features a theme. Those themes are homeland, family, patriotism and sacrifice. Each community had discretion in selecting the images etched into the panels to reflect local values for those themes.

The dedication ceremony was attended by many local Gold Star families. As the names of their loved ones were read, tears flowed freely. For many, their loved ones were known only as a name, but for others the loss was very personal.

The Honor Bricks

Engraved brick memorial walkways are a very popular way for veterans’ organizations, military bases and city parks to raise funds for their projects. Polar Engraving has worked with many veteran groups, including the Town of Niagara, to help them achieve their fundraising objectives using engraved brick walkways or brick arrays.

Honor a family member or friend by purchasing a personalized 4″ x 8″ laser-etched “Honor Brick.” A maximum of three lines of 18 characters per line (including spaces and punctuation) may be used.

Your donation to the project will allow you to commemorate a loved one and support their memory, along with helping to create this memorial park. All donations are tax-deductible. WCHS students, teachers, friends, parents, volunteers and teams are welcome to purchase an Honor Brick.

funeral bureau

Prepaying funeral expenses spares survivors the burden of making decisions during a stressful time, and it can also help control costs. There are several ways to prepay for a funeral or cemetery arrangements. These include life insurance, funeral trusts, and bank-held trusts or savings accounts.

The Board registers funeral directors, embalmers and their apprentices; investigates complaints and disciplinary action; and licenses funeral establishments. It also provides exam information and registration services.

Advance arrangements

Many individuals prepay for their funerals or burials by entering into a contract with a funeral home. These contracts may be funded through a funeral trust, annuity or insurance policy. The prepaid funds are then managed by a third party, and the individual loses access to these funds upon death. This arrangement can lead to hidden fees and problems.

Under the Funeral Rule, a funeral home must provide you with a general price list to keep and a copy of all prices for services and merchandise regularly offered by the home. It must also disclose any legal cemetery or crematory requirements that require you to buy specific goods and services.

Some funeral providers offer packages that combine services and merchandise. The Funeral Rule requires them to state that you have the right to purchase individual items instead of accepting a package. In addition, the Funeral Rule requires that the funeral home inform you of any cash advance fees it charges for things such as flowers, obituary notices and pallbearers.

Funeral trusts

Irrevocable funeral expense trusts are a great way to save money and eliminate the hassle of pre-planning. However, it is important to understand how they work and the risks involved. For example, if prices rise before the time of death, the money in these trusts may not be enough to cover expenses. Moreover, they don’t provide much protection from fraudulent or dishonest practices.

Another risk is that these trusts are not excludable under the Medicaid spend down process. Therefore, it is crucial to discuss this option with a family attorney and a financial planner before making any decisions.

Unlike traditional pre-paid funeral plans, a Funeral Expense Trust allows you to choose the goods and services that will best express your final wishes. It also provides peace of mind for your loved ones by relieving the burden of paying for funeral expenses when you die. Additionally, it is a good option for people who want to avoid paying a lot of fees and taxes.

Life insurance

Funeral homes often sell life insurance policies to their clients. They call these final expense policies, and they typically include a death benefit and an earmark that can be used for funeral expenses. This type of life insurance is not the same as traditional whole life insurance, which rates a person based on their age and health.

These policies usually don’t require a medical exam and ask few (or no) health-related questions. This can be an advantage if you have a health condition, but it can also result in higher premiums.

Ultimately, it’s important to decide whether life insurance is right for you. Talk to a financial advisor to get a better understanding of your expenses and what kind of coverage you should buy. Be sure to choose a beneficiary who can be trusted to spend the money on funeral expenses, rather than on medical or other debts. A good tip is to review your policy regularly to ensure that you have the right amount of coverage.

Cemetery arrangements

The death of a loved one is undoubtedly the most traumatic experience that any of us will endure. Fortunately, there are many ways to ease the burden on family members and make arrangements that are meaningful to the deceased. Asking the right questions, comparing prices and services, and making informed decisions are the best ways to avoid emotional and financial stress.

Under state law, funeral homes must file a statement of death and a certified copy of the death certificate. They may also be required to file a permit from the city’s health department for burial or cremation. It’s also important for families to discuss their wishes with their loved ones and include them in their wills.

Funeral directors, embalmers and undertakers must have licenses from the New York State Department of Health. They must pass an exam and meet educational requirements to get a license. During their residency, they must handle 40 cases that demonstrate their professional competency.


A mortuary is a place where coroners conduct autopsies. It’s also a refrigerated space where bodies are stored temporarily.

Most people are under the impression that standalone morgues focus on preparing bodies for burial or cremation, but this isn’t always true. They are more bare-bones operations than funeral homes and don’t offer any memorial services.

Body Preparation

When someone dies, their body needs to be cared for. This can be done in many ways depending on a family’s preferences and religious beliefs. The first step is preparing the body for burial or cremation.

Often, this involves a cooling and preservation process to slow down the natural decomposition of the body. A mortuary can also hold a viewing in a designated area for loved ones to pay their respects.

During this time, the appearance of the body may change due to rigor mortis and muscle relaxation. The body may begin to shrink or become paler. It is important to dress the body according to the family’s wishes and cultural requirements. In addition, if there are any indwelling tubes or lines (e.g., urinary catheter or endotracheal tube), they should be removed after embalming. It is also a good time to remove dentures and place them in a labeled container, or if culturally appropriate, position the mouth closed with a rolled-up towel.


Whether embalming is an appropriate option for your loved one depends on several factors including religious beliefs, viewing options and funeral plans. Your funeral service professional can help you decide if embalming is right for your family.

Embalming is a process that replaces the blood with formaldehyde-based fluid. The first step involves making an incision in the neck area above two of the body’s largest circulatory vessels, the carotid artery and jugular vein. Tubes are inserted into these vessels and a pump is connected to draw out the blood. Then, the embalmer pumps in a mixture of embalming fluids and water to fill the body.

Next, the remains are washed and vigorously massaged to relax muscles and joints tense from rigor mortis. The embalmer will then set the features of the body by posing and painting. To do this, the embalmer will often use a photo provided by the family to create a facial expression that is close to the deceased.

Caskets and Urns

Caskets and urns are both options for the final resting place of a loved one. Many funeral homes sell caskets and urns as part of their services, while others are independent entities that offer them to customers.

There is a wide range of casket designs, materials and prices. The most expensive caskets are usually made of wood. They may be crafted from pine, poplar, maple, oak or mahogany. They come in a variety of finishes and details that can be customized to reflect a person’s personality and style.

If a burial is chosen, the casket will be placed in an outer grave vault or liner before being lowered into the ground or entombed in above-ground mausoleum crypts. The grave or crypt will then be covered with a headstone or other marker. An urn can be used for in-ground or water burial after cremation or for ashes that will be scattered or kept as a memento.

Funeral Services

A mortuary is a place in hospitals and coroner’s offices where bodies are stored until they can be identified and prepared for burial or cremation. The people who work in a mortuary are called morticians or funeral directors.

When a funeral home has its own mortuary, they can offer the full range of services from body preparation to a meaningful ceremony and on-site burial or cremation. They can also help with grief counseling.

A funeral home that does not have its own mortuary will often partner with one in order to offer full funeral and memorial services. This type of partnership is also known as a funeral home-mortuary partnership.

A standalone morgue will only focus on preparing the body. They typically don’t have any staff members who can provide caskets or urns. They are ideal if you’re looking to keep expenses low.


While the words graveyard and cemetery are often used interchangeably, they have very distinct meanings. Graveyards are affiliated with churches and usually located on church grounds, and due to space limitations, they tend to be much smaller.

Cemeteries are large burial grounds that are not affiliated with any church, and they allow people of all faiths to be buried there.

The History of Graveyards

For centuries, churches controlled burials and the graveyards that held them. As the population began to grow and church graveyards became overcrowded, people started looking for new places to bury the dead. The first examples of burial grounds that were not part of a churchyard were garden cemeteries.

Cemeteries are often spooky places and have stories associated with them. Some of these include the infamous Marie Laveau in New Orleans. This woman was a hairdresser who had a side gig as a voodoo priestess. She cast mystical spells and was rumored to have magical powers.

There is a bit of confusion between the terms graveyard and cemetery, but there are some important differences. Graveyards are primarily associated with a church and can be located on its grounds or campus. A cemetery is a larger, more modern-day burial ground that is separate from a church and not necessarily affiliated with any religion. It may also contain different types of burials.

The Meaning of Graveyards

A graveyard is a place where people are buried when they die. It is usually affiliated with a church and located on the church grounds. Due to space limitations, many graveyards only allow members of the same religion to be buried on their premises.

During the Middle Ages, wealthy congregants were interred inside the church in a crypt. Less wealthy congregants were buried outside the church in an area called the graveyard, which later became known as a cemetery.

While many people use the words graveyard and cemetery interchangeably, there are several key differences between them. These include space requirements, location, religion, and headstone requirements.

The Meaning of Cemeteries

A cemetery is a place where people are buried. It is different than a church graveyard because it is not associated with a specific religion, so non-congregants can be buried there. It is also often located away from a town or city center, so that it can have more space to bury people.

The word comes from the French cimetiere, which means “graveyard.” The etymology also traces back to the Greek koimeterion, meaning “sleeping place.”

When people purchase a cemetery plot, they are able to select where they want to be laid to rest. It’s important to be clear about your wishes so that your next of kin knows what you’d like them to do. This can avoid any confusion at the time of your passing. Many cemeteries have different styles that reflect the cultures and beliefs of the people buried there. For example, lions are often used on Jewish headstones to symbolize bravery. Other common symbols include books or scrolls, angels, and weeping angels.

The Meaning of Gravestones

Many people choose to honor a loved one by laying a bouquet of flowers on or near the headstone. You can choose flowers in the person’s favorite color or a floral design that symbolizes peace and eternal life.

Symbols on gravestones can signify virtues the person exemplified, values they held dear and how they earned their living. They can also signify the spirituality of the deceased. Often, people add the names of deceased children to a family grave over the years so that a single marker can chronicle an entire family’s history.

Originally, the term “tombstone” or “stele” (plural stelae) referred to a stone lid or coffin. Later, it was used to refer to the stone slab laid flat over a grave. Today, the terms gravestone and tombstone are often used interchangeably. However, ‘tombstone’ is more traditional in its use and more closely associated with the church than a cemetery.

A cemetery design requires a thorough understanding of sales trends, demographics and burial needs. It also requires a thoughtful approach to hard-to-develop areas on the site.

The result is a cemetery that is more than a place to lay a gravestone. It is a vibrant celebration of family, history and individuality within a shared community.

Master Plan

A master plan allows a cemetery to identify short and long term needs, map their overall strategy and goals, and provide a logistical and realistic implementation plan for a wide variety of projects. It helps to optimize land utilization, while also improving the overall aesthetics of a cemetery.

Grever & Ward has worked on numerous master plans, both for new and existing cemeteries. They always include detailed planning for roads, drainage, earthwork, water supply, landscape schemes and supporting facilities (i.e. office, maintenance center). All designs emphasize economical development, operation and low maintenance to maximize return on investment.

This master plan for Mount Hope will guide future decisions affecting the cemetery’s grounds. It will provide a way to increase interment inventory reflecting current and projected need, as well as develop a community mausoleum. The plan also addresses preservation and stewardship of the cemetery as a cultural landscape and resource, while strengthening its horticultural importance. The public will be provided opportunities to give input throughout the process.

Landscape and Architecture

A cemetery landscape design is an important part of the overall cemetery experience. The cemetery should include walking paths that are easy to navigate and well-lit. The landscape should also have proper drainage to avoid flooding.

Cremation and estate gardens within a cemetery should be well designed with pleasing textures, colors, water features and patterns that reflect the natural surroundings of the cemetery. These elements provide a soothing experience for mourners.

Mourners often leave flowers on columbarium walls and urn niches, so these structures must be designed to accommodate this practice without creating a maintenance problem. Newer designs incorporate clips beside each plaque for holding a single flower or small posy.

The layout of a cemetery should allow for efficient mowing lines and be designed to flow from one area to the next. It should be easy to find specific gravesites and memorials. The layout should also allow for the placement of benches, trees and other landscaping that will enhance the beauty and serenity of the property.


A headstone is one of the most important memorial choices you will make. A standard headstone contains the name of your loved one, their date of death, and a special inscription.

The most common headstones are made of granite, although they can also be made of marble and bronze. Granite is a popular choice because it is durable and affordable, and it can withstand temperature fluctuations and weathering.

The first step in creating a headstone is shaping and finishing the stone to its exact dimensions. The design is then etched or carved into the surface of the stone, which can be done either by engraving or etching. Engraving is a physical process that uses a rubber stencil and carbon-backed design arrangement to cut lines into the stone. A pitched rough finish is also available, which adds a more natural look to the headstone and fits in well with older cemeteries. Other finishes include honed, sawn, frosted, axed, and steeled.


A cemetery can be filled with a number of accessories that can help to further memorialize a deceased loved one. These items include crucifixes and other religious motifs, vases for flowers, lampposts, solar lights, statues and many more. These are often purchased both during the design process and afterwards to add more personalization and comfort to a family’s gravesite.

These accessories can also be used to make a grave more welcoming for visitors. For instance, a flag holder can be purchased and used for years to display a seasonal or holiday flag. This shows that the grave is being attended and may be more recognizable for a visitor than just an empty flower vase.

Another option is the ceramic photo that can be placed alongside a headstone inscription. These are a popular accessory that can be manufactured and installed by the headstone provider. These are a great way to show a loved one’s personality or interests.

Choosing the right headstone is essential to honoring your loved one. There are many different styles to choose from.

Cemeteries are increasingly being treated as landscapes with graves rather than as empty expanses of land. New sections can be designed to have different vistas and places.

The cemetery can also be more environmentally friendly by utilizing cremation services.

Master Plan

A well thought out cemetery master plan allows the client to identify short and long term needs, map an overall strategy, and provide a logical and realistic implementation plan for the entire property.

It provides a road map to guide future growth while optimizing land utilization and improving aesthetics. It is also an effective tool to help market the cemetery.

Meisner: A cemetery should revisit its master plan on a regular basis. It should be a part of the overall business/financial plan, demographics assessment and marketing update.

The master plan includes site development and design plans for roads, drainage piping, earthwork, water supply, landscape schemes and supporting facilities (i.e. office, maintenance center). The systems are properly sized during the master planning process to minimize up front costs and prevent future costly replacements. The plan also provides a framework for addressing potential issues down the road. For example, if full body burial sales are dropping and cremation interments are rising, it may be time to consider a new approach to the memorial park.

Landscape and Architecture

A cemetery is more than a tranquil place to lay down a headstone, it’s a vibrant celebration of life, family, history and individuality. The landscape and architecture must reflect this and meet the needs of today’s families.

Traditional cemeteries are designed based on efficiently laying out graves and then landscaping around them to add definition and beauty. However, this can result in long vistas that can be unattractive. Newer designs allow for a variety of monuments and burial options to create more attractive vistas, as well as provide a greater sense of place.

Mourners often leave flowers or other items beside the graves and columbarium walls. The newer design of columbarium walls takes this into account by incorporating a clip or loop beside each plaque to hold a single stem or small posy. This eliminates the need to constantly maintain a mound of wilting flowers or to have them disposed of by staff. Mourners will also appreciate the natural beauty of a cemetery that has ponds and other water features.

Green Footprint

Cemetery design often requires attention to forestry, water quality and ecological sustainability. This can include developing reed beds, surface and catch all drainage systems to ensure the burial grounds do not leak into groundwater supply. It may also involve preserving or restoring natural features and integrating them into the design of interment options like gardens, columbaria, ossuaries and monuments.

Cemetery layout design should incorporate natural and flowing landscaping to provide for cleaner mowing lines, lower maintenance, less cleanup and enhanced aesthetics. This can also mean carefully selecting plantings that will thrive in your area, such as trees that do not drop fruit or nuts and will be a good fit for your visitor demographic.

An aesthetically pleasing cemetery increases its value and marketability, which can lead to an increase in revenues and profitability. It can also help mourners move through the grief process more quickly.


Providing a safe and accessible space is essential for any cemetery. This means that each grave should have a clear path to get there, as well as sidewalks to allow people to navigate the entire property. It also means that a cemetery should have curbs that are low enough for wheelchairs to roll over.

Memorials have a significant impact on mourners during the grieving process and are an important part of a cemetery’s design. Many cemeteries have dedicated memorial specialists on staff to help individuals select a memorial that meets their personal expectations.

In addition to addressing the physical needs of a cemetery, it is essential to consider the impact on the environment. This includes reducing the amount of land that is used for conventional burials and exploring alternatives to ground burial. This will not only be more environmentally friendly but it will also reduce the competition over limited resources.