The Importance of Cemetery Design

Cemetery Design

Cemeteries are sensitive spaces where bidding a loved one goodbye is very personal. However, they also play a crucial role in cities’ urban real estate and sustainability.

Martha Lyon, a landscape architect, says cash-strapped municipalities don’t tend to invest in cemetery landscaping. But upfront improvements, like converting asphalt roads to permeable surfaces, reduce maintenance costs.

Master Plan

A Cemetery Master Plan is a comprehensive plan that provides a roadmap for long term planning and enables the Cemetery to meet the needs of its clients. It includes the analysis and design of the overall cemetery site, a list of short and long term needs and a detailed implementation plan for a variety of projects.

Proper grading and drainage are critical for Cemetery grounds as they should direct water away from gravesites and buildings and into appropriate areas. These drainage systems must be carefully designed by a professional to ensure that they are functional and do not cause any flooding or seepage problems.

Good Cemetery Design adds value and increases revenues. For example, those burial plots near scenic and beautiful spaces and features command premium prices over a standard lawn burial. Providing options like cremation gardens and tree planting also help to promote the idea of green burial and sustainable futures. Other cemetery amenities such as outdoor lighting, monument and plaque signage that follows protocol and hardscapes that are in proportion with the site layout are important.


Bidding a final goodbye is a highly personal gesture and the cemetery must accommodate a variety of family, religious and cultural traditions. This can be a challenging task and requires a broad knowledge of how to design and manage this delicate space.

A cemetery must also be accessible to its visitors. Whether they are elderly people, families with young children or people who are grieving, they need to be able to find their way around the site without difficulty. The Cemetery Design must include clear and simple signage so that visitors can easily navigate the grounds.

In addition to signage, the Cemetery should provide adequate parking for those who visit the graves. This will ensure that visitors do not have to walk long distances and that the cemetery remains a safe and welcoming place for everyone. It is also important to consider the use of green technologies in order to make the cemetery more sustainable.


Signage is an important aspect of cemetery design. It helps people find their way around the cemetery and avoid getting lost. It also reminds people to show respect to their loved ones. Cemetery signs are also a great way to promote community outreach and encourage visitors to come back regularly.

Many cemeteries have rules and regulations regarding the type, size, and construction of memorials. These restrictions are generally cemetery wide, but can also apply to specific burial sites. These rules and regulations are designed to ensure that memorials are safe and maintained, so that the cemetery can continue to operate effectively.

Stephen Chiavaroli is a GIS Specialist and Cemetery Planner with years of experience providing comprehensive mapping and planning solutions. He has helped numerous clients unlock additional revenue by improving their cemetery inventory analysis and development strategies. He has also presented at several professional conferences. He has an extensive background in Cemetery Mapping & Planning and is committed to promoting best practices.


Plantings in a cemetery help visitors connect with the deceased. They are also a way for families to honor their loved ones. The plantings can include trees, shrubs or flowers.

Most modern cemeteries have enacted rules regarding what can be planted on a grave. These rules usually help to streamline maintenance and prevent situations that are deemed unsightly or detrimental to the overall landscape.

A common choice is to plant a flower garden at a loved one’s grave. It is important to choose plants that are low maintenance and will not be affected by a long period of drought. Some good choices are geraniums, astilbe, chrysanthemums, marigolds and zinnias. These are easy to grow and provide many colors. They are often deer resistant as well.

Other good choices are hollyhocks and lilyturfs. They add a nice color in the fall and are a great contrast to the green of the rest of the plantings. Heather, which is hardy and blooms without interruption, is another good choice.

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