LA Group – Cemetery Design

Cemetery Design is an important project for communities and often involves a large amount of community interest. The LA Group works with community leaders, cemetery professionals, volunteers and stakeholders to design cemetery improvements and new sections.

Modern cemetery design is moving away from treating graves as homogenous expanses of land to thinking of them as landscapes with “places” for burial. This allows for more efficient design of new burial sections and a sense of variety throughout the cemetery.

Design Considerations

Modern cemetery design considers a broad range of issues beyond the primary function of burial and commemoration. It must be a place of connection with family, community, and history; a celebration of the individual; a beautiful and sustainable environment. Achieving all of this requires a unique set of skills and knowledge.

Burial areas should generally conform to existing terrain with final grades ranging from two percent, the minimum required for positive drainage, to 15 percent to achieve one predominant uniform slope within each burial section. Rising and falling slopes should be eliminated where possible.

Careful selection of ornamental plants, grading to avoid erosion, proper irrigation, and maintenance of all landscape elements should be considered. The removal of diseased or pest-infested woody plants, regular pruning of specimen trees, and replanting with appropriate species will help to ensure that character-defining vegetation remains a major component of cemetery landscapes.


The cemetery landscape is one of the most important factors in modern cemetery design. It must be well-planned and balanced with accessibility and sustainability.

Cemetery landscapes should be aesthetically pleasing. However, they must also be functional. They must be able to provide shade and a sense of place. It’s also essential that the cemetery has good drainage systems.

In addition, a cemetery should be able to accommodate changing demographics. The layout of the cemetery should be designed to accommodate a range of needs, including those of families with young children.

A master plan can help a cemetery identify short and long term needs. It can also improve the overall marketability of a cemetery. Developing a master plan is a complex process, but it’s worth the effort. It will help ensure that a cemetery is safe and easy to navigate for visitors of all ages. It will also help minimize maintenance costs.


Modern cemetery design goes beyond simply a place to lay a grave. It’s a vibrant celebration of life, family, history and individuality, integrated within a shared community. Incorporating all of this requires a unique combination of design know-how.

Accessibility is a big consideration in cemetery design. Whether you’re designing a cemetery master plan or adding an extension, it’s important to make sure the property is easy to navigate. This includes ensuring there are sidewalks and wheelchair-accessible paths throughout the property.

It’s also important to consider sustainability. Choosing environmentally friendly materials can help reduce your environmental footprint. For example, using biodegradable mulches or solar power can help reduce your carbon footprint. Additionally, incorporating water features such as ponds can provide a beautiful backdrop for the cemetery and increase its sustainability.


A good cemetery master plan is important for demonstrating permanency to city planning committees and the public, and a strong master plan can also help a cemetery save money by making it easier to manage. The design process starts with a feasibility study to determine what types of services are required and to understand the site, including topography, drainage, vegetation, climate, utilities and zoning.

Then, a design is created to achieve the desired goals. This may include burials, mausoleums, niche structures, chapels and office buildings, as well as grounds maintenance and transportation infrastructure.

As an example, a cemetery could choose to focus on green burial by implementing a space efficient design that allows for multiple burials within a limited footprint. The cemetery could also incorporate trees, using them for shade and aesthetics, or even planting native species to create a habitat that helps enrich the surrounding urban environment. For existing cemetery properties, it’s a good idea to prioritize the removal of ornamental plants, as they can often out-compete and overtake native species.

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