Caring for your loved one’s gravesite is an opportunity to show them respect and honor their memory. While many cemeteries offer landscaping packages today, you may still want to participate in the care of your loved one’s final resting place or know which services are essential. You may also have to plan for your own landscaping needs if your loved one chose for their grave to be placed on private property such as your family’s land.
Planning your loved one’s gravesite landscaping and care should always begin with careful thought about the location since certain cemeteries have guidelines regarding things such as the types of decor that are allowed or how high grass can grow. Once you know the regulations, you can then begin to focus on putting together a care plan that fits your beliefs and ensures that your loved one’s gravesite is always in beautiful condition.
Dedicate a Place for Fresh Flowers
Leaving flowers at a gravesite is a time-honored tradition that gives people a sense of comfort after a significant loss. If you plan to leave cut flowers regularly, consider adding a small vase to place them in that helps to keep them fresher for longer. Alternatively, you may prefer to place a planter near the gravesite that you can keep filled with annuals or perennials to create a more impressive display.
When choosing flowers for your loved one’s gravesite, let your heart guide your decisions. If they had a favorite flower such as daisies, then these are the perfect ones to plant. Keep in mind, however, that you still need to be sure that the flowers you choose are suitable for growing in that specific climate. Many people rotate floral choices in the spring and winter seasons to ensure that the flowers are always in bloom.
Plan to Mow and Fertilize
Your loved one’s gravesite should always be covered in lush, green grass that invites their family and friends to stay awhile and reflect upon their memories. Start by making sure that any grass seed or sod that you put down matches the turf that surrounds the gravesite. Then, arrange to have the grass fertilized and watered according to the recommendations for the grass type until it is sturdy and strong. You also need to make plans to have the grass mowed regularly and provided with seasonal treatments such as aeration to keep it beautiful throughout the year.
Trim Around the Headstone or Monument
The grass around the exterior perimeter of headstones and monuments also needs to be trimmed or edged regularly. However, you need to be cautious about the type of tools that you use since electric trimmers with blades and other tools that use significant force can scratch the delicate stone on gravesite markers. Instead of using power tools, use handheld scissors or grass clippers to clear away grass with better precision.
Consider Adding Mulch
The turf around headstones builds up over time, which can give the appearance that the marker is sinking into the ground. Mulch is an option that helps to give the area surrounding the headstone a uniform appearance, and it can also help to deter excessive grass and weed growth. When selecting mulch, choose natural colors that enhance the gravesite, and avoid using dark-colored mulch that can leave unsightly stains on the stonework.
Choose a Weed Control Method
Weeds are a common problem for gravesite management, and it is best to address weed growth early on in the season before they have a chance to spread their seeds. Pre-emergent weed treatments need to be applied to the gravesite turf just before growing season in the early spring. If your area tends to have large amounts of winter weeds, then you will also need to apply this treatment again in the late fall.
Once weeds have already broken through the ground, you need to change your control tactics. At this point, you have several options for weed removal. Hand pulling is effective, and you can choose this option if there are only a few weeds sprouting up on the grave. Just make sure that you are able to dig up the entire root to prevent regrowth.
Post-emergent treatments are another way to reduce weeds around the grave, but you may need to be cautious about the type that you use so that you do not negatively affect the desirable plant life at the site. Natural weed control methods such as directly spraying vinegar on the plant can also be successful in some instances if you prefer to avoid using chemicals.
Plan for Debris Removal and Seasonal Clean Ups
Your loved one’s grave decorations should never be left out in the elements so long that they create an eyesore. If you place cut flowers on the grave regularly, then be sure to remove them once they begin to lose their blooms. Wreaths, flags and other seasonal decorations should also be removed once the appropriate holiday or season is over.
Your loved one’s grave may also have natural debris that collects on top of the turf throughout the year. This is especially true if their gravesite is located near trees and other beautiful types of plants that drop their foliage in the fall and spring. Arrange to have someone inspect the gravesite regularly to remove sticks, leaves and other types of debris so that the area is always maintained.
Clean the Headstone or Marker
Over time, your loved one’s grave marker can become marred by mold, dirt and other types of contaminants such as bird droppings that ruin the appearance. Avoid using harsh chemicals that can break down the stone and cause damage such as pitting. Instead, use a gentle cleanser that is meant for that type of stone, and carefully rub away any obvious surface dirt. If the gravestone develops more serious stains, then you may need to have it professionally cleaned so that you do not cause damage from aggressive scrubbing.
Add a Personal Touch
Your loved one’s gravesite can also be personalized with additional features that increase the closeness that you feel when you visit. Water features are a popular addition to gravesite since the flowing water generates a sense of tranquility. Benches are also a common feature to be added to the landscaping that gives your loved one’s visitors a place to sit. If you add a personal touch, then you also need to add the maintenance of these features to your landscaping plans such as adding treatments to the water fountain to prevent freezing during the winter.
Establish a Regular Maintenance Schedule
Your decision to care for your loved one’s gravesite is a tremendous responsibility that continues for many years. Create a schedule that helps you to keep up with seasonal maintenance, and make a note of any needs that you see during your visits. If you live too far to do the maintenance on your own, then arrange for services that allow you to rest assured that your loved one’s gravesite always reflects the honorable life that they lived. Many maintenance providers even include before an after pictures of the gravesite so that you can see how well it is kept.
Honoring your loved one is as simple as making sure that their final resting place is always a beautiful site to visit. While it does take effort to keep up a gravesite, you’ll find that landscaping and maintenance are easier once you set up a routine.