With Memorial Day right around the corner, people are planning different ways to decorate their loved ones' cemetery plots. Most often this includes flags, plastic flower arrangements, wreaths, fresh cut flowers and gifts that help us demonstrate respect for the deceased. But what happens to these grave site decorations once the holiday is over? More often than not, they are thrown away.
If you think about all of the cemeteries across the United States, that results in a hefty amount of unnecessary garbage. Each cemetery has a list of rules and regulations regarding the decorations they allow, and are often broken down to the time of year different arrangements are able to be used, and the dates they will be thrown away.
Think of these guidelines as the CCR (covenants, conditions and restrictions) for the afterlife. Just as in real estate, they are meant to keep the property looking uniform, tidy and, above all, respectful of all residents in the cemetery. They also work to maintain an easy landscaping environment, where the grass is easily trimmed around the headstones, and objects aren't hidden that will cause injuries to employees (like glass vases) when run over by the lawn mower or that get broken during a storm. However, this creates a lot of waste. Unless you are diligent about removing your décor in a timely fashion and reusing it during the dates allowed each year, this results in tons of garbage.
Why not green up your Memorial Day this year and use these suggestions to keep the cemetery and landfill looking beautiful?
First, check with your cemetery to find out what their rules
entail. For Memorial Day, go with fresh flowers. Some cemeteries that usually do not allow vases might allow them for a brief time around the holiday, or might even have some approved ones for sale that you can use. Many modern headstones come with vases built onto them, and monument companies also sell attachments
that can be used on a variety of plots or headstones to keep the plants elevated and out of the caretakers' way when trimming the grass.
Fresh flowers obviously decompose rather than pile up in the landfill, and often serve as a good meal for the deer and rabbits that frequent the area. In some areas of the country, cemetery logs
are used. These usually contain annuals and are small container gardens planted inside wood.
Flags are also a very respectful decoration, as Memorial Day is celebrated in remembrance of our brave souls who died while in service to our nation. Many cemeteries have flags that are available for use. This allows for no trash whatsoever, as the caretakers remove the flags in the week following the holiday and store them for later use. Potted plants are a beautiful addition to any grave if you are able to maintain them. If you don't plan on returning to keep them up, don't expect the caretakers to do it for you. Withered plants make the plot and the person in it look forgotten and neglected, and will more than likely be removed. Many cemeteries have regulations regarding the size of the pot, if they are allowed.
Often cemeteries allow certain types of plants to be grown directly around the headstone. Again, this is an option only if you plan to return regularly to maintain the area.
Don't know your cemetery's regulations? Check online. Many maintain websites that give specific lists of what decorations they tolerate and encourage. Otherwise, stop by the office and pick up the information.