The Importance of Cemetery Design

Cemetery Design

Bidding a loved one farewell is always a difficult experience. Considering this, Cemetery Design must be sensitive and must offer ease of accessibility to all visitors.

Taking this into consideration, a well-thought Cemetery Master Plan can help in the effective use of space and resources. It can also enable long term sustainability for the Cemetery.

Master Plan

A cemetery master plan is a roadmap to guide future changes and additions. It provides a way to determine a fixed time frame and can also be used as a sales tool. WC Fry Design works with cemetery professionals, leadership, and stakeholders to create cemetery master plans, extensions and new sections. We have experience working with both public and private cemeteries.

Using existing natural features to their full potential, locating focal points and other elements that add value to the surrounding landscape is an essential aspect of cemetery design. Whether it is making good use of a waterway or taking advantage of an elevation change, these thoughtful considerations can provide both interest and value to the cemetery and its visitors. It can also increase the overall sustainability of the site, while demonstrating its permanence as a community fixture to city planning committees and residents. A Cemetery Master Plan can also be an opportunity to analyze the viability of a variety of projects, balancing development costs with revenue and capacity production.

Landscape and Architecture

A cemetery should be more than a peaceful place to bury the dead. It should be a space to connect with family, friends and community, a place to reflect and inspire.

Cemeteries today need to provide burial options for a wide range of preferences and cultures. Adding new monuments and architectural features that support these trends will help to attract future generations.

Modern cemetery design focuses on landscapes with graves rather than simply laying out graves in a grid. This approach allows for greater differentiation of landscapes and a better sense of flow through the site.

Ponds (natural and man-made) provide aesthetic appeal, reduce mowing requirements, enhance wildlife habitat and add a peaceful touch to the landscape. They can even serve as a focal point for memorialization. Mourners can leave a flower or posy on the wall of a columbarium or at the base, close to their loved one’s plaque. This is a wonderful way to express the meaning of life and death in a beautiful setting.


Many cemeteries have been designed in ways that exclude those with limited mobility. By incorporating more sidewalks, wheelchair-accessible paths, and gardens that are designed with low maintenance, you can welcome all visitors to a cemetery.

While it is customary to leave flowers and other offerings, it is important to respect cultural norms about touching tombstones and refraining from whistling in a graveyard. It is also important to read about a cemetery’s rules before you visit so that you don’t accidentally cause damage or disturb the resting place of someone else.

A digital map that is updated regularly and accurately reflects the physical layout of the cemetery helps both staff and visitors find information easily. By using a mapping solution like Chronicle, high quality images of the grounds can be collected and plots drawn on top with precision, accounting for every grave and monument before being matched to records. This allows a cemetery to plan more effectively for the future.


Besides the main signage indicating the layout of the graves, cemeteries display other information about the site and its cultural or historical importance. Such signs may also serve to identify specific grave sites for friends and family members seeking out the burial place of their loved ones.

Signs displaying this information generally follow the same basic guidelines as those for directional signs: for example, a proposed identification sign at the old Jewish cemetery in Rohatyn (Ivano-Frankivsk oblast) follows Ukrainian national standards for the sign size, corner radius, arrow form and typeface, substituting brown coloring for the standard blue and adding a custom symbol, which is similar to the rounded headstone silhouette that distinguishes Jewish headstones from crosses typically used for Christian grave markers.

By using a QR code, your cemetery can link visitors directly to your online cemetery public records and maps (by Chronicle). This not only helps with customer service but allows you to reduce your administrative work.

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