Ways to Decorate Grave Sites

Updated April 17, 2017

It's important to honour the memory of a loved one who has died and to provide a fitting resting place where friends and relatives can visit. There are several ways to keep a grave site or other internment place decorative, tidy and personalised and to make visits more welcoming for mourners.

Flowers in Bloom

Planting flowers near a grave is the traditional method of decoration. Always check with the cemetery groundskeeper before putting in any plants. When planting flowers or bushes, keep in mind that they will grow. That means they will have to be maintained either by you or someone you hire. It is best to select small annuals or perennials such as bell flowers, dahlias, daisies, impatiens, petunias and sedum. Hostas make a good decoration that returns every year. There are dozens of pretty flowers from which to choose. Bigger plants, such as rose and berry bushes, peonies and rhododendrons can be spectacular, but they grow large quickly. They can cover a headstone in weeks.

Plastic Plants

If you don't live close to a loved one's burial place, consider using artificial flowers and plants to decorate the grave. Artificial flowers need to be replaced occasionally because of weathering, but with uncertainty about rainfall and other climatic conditions, artificial flowers will decorate a grave more reliably than using real plants. Many web sites sell memorial silk flowers that are made for continuous outdoor exposure and come in vases that anchor into the ground.

Alternatives to Flowers

Solar technology allows for more advanced headstone memorials. Online companies sell solar-lighted crosses, angels and personalised plaques and the accessories to keep them secure. To personalise a grave site, consider the plaques that feature family photos or inscriptions. Bird feeders, if allowed, can bring life to a resting place. Replicas of favourite pets and representations of hobbies and sports once enjoyed by the deceased can decorate a grave site. Some families use seasonal decorations for holidays such as Christmas, Hanukkah and Valentine's Day. Of course, for U.S. service veterans, flags and replicas of medals, can go at the grave.

Know the Restrictions

Many cemeteries regulate what can be placed near a grave or mausoleum. Check a cemetery's web site or speak with the groundskeeper to learn about those restrictions. Many cemeteries do not allow decorations to overlap or infringe on adjacent space. Some cemeteries may make you select plantings from their private nurseries to keep the landscaping uniform. Other restrictions could include bans on cans, glass, candles, pinwheels and decorations that are not quite flush with the ground.

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About the Author

A graduate of Syracuse University, Rick Stanley has spent more than 30 years working as a writer and editor at metropolitan newspapers in Florida and New York State. He has also served as a media consultant for a major U.S. company.