The Importance of Cemetery Design

Whether it’s planning for a new cemetery or a master plan for an existing one, good design increases revenue. Burial plots near trees and other scenic park features command premium prices.

Modern cemetery architecture should follow the spirit first, then form and function. That means incorporating natural beauty and cultural traditions into the design.

Master Plan

The Master Plan unifies the Cemetery with a new circulation plan that bridges the streets that bisect the site. It acknowledges neighbourhoods with historically significant character and makes use of the unique open spaces to encourage passive recreational activities in a natural setting. Safety concerns are addressed with a strong emphasis on Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) principles, more effective site treatments and consolidation of maintenance, administration and caretaker uses.

A new organizational structure puts the Cemetery Manager at the head of a team to champion and implement the Master Plan. This includes a Landscape Team that will maintain the Cemetery turf, horticulture and arboriculture; Interment Team that will provide both ashes and full casket interments; Special Project Team to work on new projects and major maintenance initiatives; and Customer Service Team to manage all aspects of office operations.

The Cemetery will be self-sustaining by 2022 with the interest on the Perpetual Care Fund covering almost all of its operating costs. The financial stability provided by this arrangement is crucial to eliminating the City’s serious liability for the Cemetery in perpetuity.

Green Footprint

Green burial is an eco-conscious alternative to traditional end-of-life arrangements. It aims to minimize waste and environmental impact by eliminating embalming, concrete vaults, metal caskets, and other non-biodegradable materials. It also allows for natural grave markers and burial on land that has been restored to a more natural state.

The resulting thriving ecosystems help preserve local flora and fauna, providing habitat for wildlife. They offer the opportunity for deep connection with nature, which supports the healing process and can provide a sense of solace.

A funeral home can help a client achieve a green burial by recommending a shroud or simple biodegradable casket. By removing the vault and the need for embalming, families can reduce their carbon footprint by almost a third. They can also save thousands of dollars.


A cemetery is a public space that must be accessible to everyone. That means it must be easy to navigate and must have a wide range of amenities to accommodate all visitors. These features can include everything from sidewalks to wheelchair-accessible paths.

Gary: I would add that ensuring access for all visitors, including people with disabilities, is important. This is especially true in light of recent regulations regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hines: I would also emphasize the importance of good cemetery design that incorporates sustainable practices into every aspect of the site development process and planning process, from the very beginning stages.

For example, a careful evaluation of the site’s natural systems can help determine whether extensive earthmoving and grading are necessary for a particular project. Ideally, final grading should achieve one predominant uniform slope throughout the burial area and eliminate rising and falling slopes. This approach can minimize the impact of full body burials on the site’s natural resources and improve the aesthetics of the cemetery.


Whether you’re there to pay your respects or simply walk around, cemetery landscapes are beautiful. Many feature a weathered look that’s been produced by decades or even centuries of exposure to the elements. The inscriptions on many gravestones also provide touching glimpses into the customs, tastes and norms of an era.

Cemeteries are an architectural showcase, combining design splendor and artistry with timeless motifs and symbols. They can also serve as a natural sanctuary where you can find a sense of peace and transcendence.

With the proper planning and design, a cemetery can be both beautiful and functional. It’s important to consult with an expert when it comes to designing a cemetery, because they can help ensure that everything is done properly and efficiently. This will save you a lot of time and money in the long run. It’s also important to consider the future needs of your cemetery, so that you can plan accordingly.

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