Why can’t I decorate the grave the way I want?

by | Mar 3, 2023

Decorating a loved one’s gravesite is a part of personalizing their memorial and remembering them. It provides many families comfort knowing their loved one’s grave has fresh flowers or another beautiful tribute decoration. However, many families aren’t aware of the rules that come with grave decorations. 

Every cemetery has rules and regulations around what can be done to “decorate” a grave. These get reviewed and updated occasionally.  Most rules came into being for safety reasons around lawn care and how it is done. How a grave is decorated could cause a safety hazard to cemetery goers and maintenance staff. For example, glass of any kind is never allowed as it can shatter, or get caught up in mower blades and be shot out as a deadly weapon. Food isn’t allowed as it attracts animals, especially coyotes. When we see any of this, it is immediately removed from the gravesite. 

Sometimes, decorations may be inappropriate or distracting to other cemetery goers.  One person’s sentimental decorations are another person’s tasteless display. No cemetery wants to receive complaints from other families who don’t like the sight of ad-hoc decorations (and yes, we do get these complaints). We will contact the family via letter and ask them to clean up the gravesite, and if it is not done within a week, we remove everything.  

During mowing season, April through October, flowers, plants, and decorations will be removed weekly in order to carry out normal lawn care and maintenance procedures. Flowers placed at the time of a burial will be left for three days with the cemetery staff removing flowers after they become wilted.  

What is allowed?  

  • Fresh flowers in temporary cone vases that you can find in the cemetery
  • Fresh flowers or artificial flowers in a monument vase
  • Christmas Wreaths which are usually on a stand near the monument or on the grave 
  • Small flags during Memorial Day, July 4, Veteran’s Day 
  • Christmas decorations can be placed on a grave i.e. small tree, lighted ornament, as long as they are removed by March 1. 

Decorations That Are Not Allowed 

  • Fencing or any borders around the grave 
  • Glass ornaments, candles, or jars 
  • Decorations with stakes stuck into the ground, which include shepherd’s hooks 
  • Stuffed animals 
  • Free-standing decorations or vases 
  • Large flags or banners 
  • Wind chimes, crosses, or bird feeders 

Chapel mausoleums have similar rules, however, live plants or flowers are never allowed. Due to insects that can infest the whole mausoleum, any flowers left after an interment will be immediately removed. Taping photos or notes to the shutter (the pannel covering the niche or crypt) will often damage the stone or leave an adhesive that attracts dirt. This can lead to an unsightly “marker” next to other shutters.  

We are in conversation with a company that can provide a color portrait option for mausoleum shutters in the near future. Of course we will let you know when that option becomes available, hopefully sometime this winter.  

“Is there really nothing we can do to memorialize our lost loved ones at the sites their bodies lay?” We need to point out that the headstone “is” the memorialization – that’s the entire point of the headstone. No cemetery is obligated to allow families to go above and beyond the installation of a stone of their choice by embellishing it or the grave it sits on. 

      • To view the types of memorial options we have available at our cemeteries click on the “Memorial Options” button below.
      • To view TCC’s complete decoration policy click on the “TCC Decoration Policy” button below.