What Is Cemetery Design?

Cemetery Design aims to bring a fresh look to this important space. The modern cemetery is less focused on carved and exuberant decorative elements and more on creating a serene landscape that is thought provoking.

It is also focused on working positively with the 4 natural systems of the site. This includes water features, ponds and retention structures.

Site Analysis

Cemeteries are complex spaces with a number of different stakeholders. It’s important to take the time to understand all aspects of a site before starting to develop a design solution. This includes the site analysis phase which requires research, fieldwork and a detailed understanding of the site conditions that influence design parameters.

This information is then transcribed into annotated diagrams and presented to the client. This allows for a clearer understanding of what needs to be achieved on the project. It’s also an opportunity to consider the potential of using new approaches or methodologies within a traditional cemetery space.

For example, if a site has beautiful water features or wooded areas these should be highlighted in the design. We find that the most successful cemetery designs are those that work with the existing site rather than against it. This could be as simple as avoiding a noisy location on the site or ensuring that a living area captures afternoon sun and avoids shadows from a neighbouring high-rise building.

Master Plan

The master plan phase is the primary stage in cemetery design. Its role is to create a holistic plan for the cemetery that maximizes land utilization while improving aesthetics and creating long term sustainability.

Cemeteries are a unique landscape. They must be designed as a place where families can connect with each other and their loved ones, and also offer a way for everyone to honor their history and individuality. It takes a special kind of know-how to balance these needs in an aesthetically and culturally sensitive way.

In the past, cemetery designs were primarily based on laying out graves as efficiently as possible and then applying “landscaping” to make them look beautiful. However, a more holistic approach to cemetery design allows for a more varied and interesting landscape with places to visit, rest and contemplate. In addition, well-planned landscaping increases efficiency by reducing mowing requirements, lower maintenance and cleanup costs, reduced erosion and increased wildlife habitat.


Once a cemetery layout design has been established, the landscaping phase begins. This involves creating a planting plan that is carefully researched for climate, soil conditions and flow. It is also important to consider tree size, placement and species selection based on mowing and maintenance needs, drainage ways and a variety of aesthetic considerations.

Increasingly, modern cemeteries are considering how to be more sustainable. Incorporating a green burial section for example allows for the preservation of natural land, reduces the need for irrigation and requires less space for burial plots.

Cemetery designers have a unique challenge as they must balance the wishes of the community and the desire to be innovative in a traditionally sensitive space. This is why it is important to work with a firm that understands the delicate nature of this type of work. It takes a certain level of expertise to know how to communicate these new ideas in a way that does not offend or alienate people.


Once the master plan is complete, a cemetery’s programming and design can begin to take shape. This stage also includes the development of a detailed site map, which identifies areas that are amenable for development and defines their relationship to each other based on functional relationships.

Cemetery Signs that State Rules, Hours, and More

When designing a cemetery, it is important to consider your audience’s needs. For example, if your Cemetery is located in a remote location or caters to elderly visitors, you may need to include directional and wayfinding signs to make it easy for people to navigate the property. In addition, cemetery signs should be clear and easily read, both from a distance and up close.

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