The Importance of Cemetery Design

The design of a cemetery must consider the needs of the community. This can be achieved through thoughtful and functional landscapes and architecture.

A well developed master plan optimizes land utilization and improves the aesthetics of a delicate space. This makes it easier for visitors to navigate and enjoy the cemetery.


Cemeteries are complex spatial environments, deeply entwined with cultural, spiritual and emotional dimensions. The design of this type of space should be sensitive and thoughtful. The use of neutral colors that fit into natural backgrounds, a variety of shades of green to give each space its identity and species of flowering trees must be carefully conceived. The design of memorial furniture, fences that follow standard protocol and outdoor lighting should complement the landscape and accentuate certain areas.

Cremation has also opened up new opportunities for efficient grave layout and landscape design. In addition, interment of cremains does not disrupt groundwater and natural systems as full body burials do.

Mourners often leave flowers on the headstone or columbarium wall of their loved ones. New designs of columbarium walls now accommodate this desire by incorporating metal clips beside each plaque that can hold a single stem or small posy. These clips prevent tripping hazards while keeping flowers close to the plaque.


The cemetery landscape should be a place of beauty and tranquility. It should include a variety of greenery and different colors, which must be carefully coordinated to create a unique and attractive design.

Proper drainage is an important aspect of a cemetery’s maintenance. It helps avoid flooding, and reduces the amount of maintenance needed for buried monuments and other features. The drainage system should also be properly sized during the planning process to minimize future replacement costs.

Families should be encouraged to visit their loved ones’ graves and memorial sites regularly to practice preventative maintenance. This will allow them to spot small problems that might otherwise go unnoticed if they were left unchecked, and will help ensure that their loved ones’ memorials are maintained properly. A cemetery should also have adequate receptacles for trash and waste, to make it easier for visitors to dispose of their trash. This will also keep the grounds clean and uncluttered.


The traditional cemetery management involves the allocation of land for burial, digging and filling of graves and the construction and maintenance of headstones and markers. While the maintenance of these memorials is a responsibility of the families and friends, the resultant collection of individual and sometimes unattractive headstones and monuments often leads to new cemetery developments standardising the shape or design of grave markers.

Cemetery designers should consider the flow of a site when planning for future cemetery development. For example, a water feature, wooded hillside or high point on the property may be able to serve as a focal point for a new section of the cemetery.

A cemetery should also be flexible enough to change direction if market trends change, for example, the increasing preference for cremation. This should be reflected in the master plan by including a range of burial options that allow for flexibility. This will also help to keep the cemeteries viable and avoid closure in the future.


The cemetery is considered to be a “forever” installation, so it’s important to use quality materials that are well designed and fit the space. This helps to ensure that the cemetery will last for years to come, and will continue to serve the community well.

The design of a cemetery is also important to consider how sustainable it is. This can be achieved by using green infrastructure principles in the design. This includes integrating natural elements into the cemetery, like trees, grass and flowers, as well as implementing sustainable drainage systems that are designed to prevent leakages.

Another way to make a cemetery more sustainable is by utilizing a variety of different burial options. For example, burying bodies directly in the ground, versus a casket, can reduce environmental impact and improve the overall aesthetic of the grave site. Moreover, this can also save money on burial fees in the long run. Lastly, incorporating the use of plants, like birch trees, weeping willows and sugar maples on the interior of the cemetery can help create a peaceful environment for visitors.

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