How to Design a Cemetery

A well designed cemetery should be both calming and inviting to visitors. Adding decorative features, different shades of green, proper proportions of hardscape to softscapes and providing directional signage that complements the overall layout are just a few of the components needed for a successful cemetery design.

Good cemetery design adds value to a burial plot, often increasing revenues. Those who choose plots with views or close proximity to park amenities will pay premiums for the choice.


Graves are a vital part of the cemetery design. It’s important to make the experience of bidding farewell to a loved one as beautiful as possible.

It is also important to create a landscape that encourages connection with family and community. This is accomplished by providing a variety of burial options including private estate gardens, bench estates and traditional lawn burials as well as columbaria and ossuaries for cremation interments.

It is crucial to design a cemetery layout that takes into account drainage and the needs of the surrounding environment. This can be done by installing subsoil drains, reed bed construction or surface water catchment systems. Creating ponds in the cemetery can offer additional beauty and serve as a resting place for wildlife. It is also a great way to help with erosion and reduce the need for irrigation.

Mausoleums & Columbariums

When full body burial is not desired or possible, mausoleums and columbaria offer a beautiful alternative. A mausoleum is a building designed for above ground placement of caskets, whereas a columbarium is a space for the interment of cremains (urns). These structures may be public/shared or private/family and have varying design options from a basic architectural style to a more decorative look.

Columbaria also allow for a more efficient use of cemetery space which helps reduce maintenance costs and environmental footprints (when using aquamation over flame cremation). As with graves, mourners often leave flowers on columbarium walls – newer designs include metal clips beside each plaque to hold a single flower or small posy. This practice is a respectful and timeless custom. These are a beautiful addition to any cemetery.


Once a cemetery master plan has been completed, the design process can begin. A variety of different cemetery design solutions can be developed and evaluated for their fit to the site and community. Areas with constraints to development will be identified and worked around where possible.

Headstones or memorials can be designed to convey the individual’s beliefs and relationships through an inscription cast or carved on the face of the stone. A photo may be etched or embedded into the stone, and artful emblems may also be included.

Memorial design requires attention to the overall landscape of the cemetery. Decorative elements, plantings with a range of textures and colors, special water features, and thoughtful directional signage must all contribute to the aesthetic. A well-designed cemetery will be a place of comfort and beauty.


Cemeteries can be seen as an urban green infrastructure and serve a number of functions beyond the primary one of burial. They can help to regulate temperatures, prevent soil erosion and floods, provide habitats for insects and small animals and provide recreational opportunities for the public.

Upright monuments can be as large or as small as your cemetery allows, and can include a variety of designs. They are typically built up off the ground using a base, and can incorporate features such as sculpted slabs, porcelain portraits, bronze or aluminum accents, hand-tooled lettering, and more.

Whenever possible, we try to utilize the natural landscape of a cemetery as opposed to building on new land. This may involve working around features such as a scenic water feature, desirable wooded hillside or high point.

Interior Design

Many modern cemetery designs focus on a spiritual trend. This includes ponds, native landscaping and an aesthetic that invites wildlife into the cemetery grounds.

Cemetery landscape design can also be a way to connect with the community. Including your community in the progress of your cemetery master plan shows that you value their opinion and feedback.

Often, unique areas in a cemetery require more care than others. These can include wetlands, wooded areas or hilly landscapes that are hard to develop. These situations require more time for thinking and can result in more creative solutions for the cemetery. Working with these challenges can result in a more interesting place that people enjoy visiting. This is important for a cemetery because people are attracted to places that have personality.

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