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Selecting Plants for Green Burial Sites

It may sound like a burden that’s needlessly bothersome, but the guidelines are there to protect the very things that drew you to a green cemetery in the first place. This guide will help you select plants for green burial sites that enhance the surroundings rather than making a negative impact.
Selecting Plants for Green Burial Sites

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Burials are undergoing a huge change. For many years we drained embalming fluid and poured concrete into the ground without considering the ecological impact. With each traditional burial it became more clear that the process needed to be modified.

Today, there are green cemeteries where every burial is natural and creates minimal impact on the environment. In an effort to preserve the burial site, what can be added and the flower arrangements that can be put at the gravesite are limited. This can include plants that you plan on putting in the ground to grow. 

Native Plants Are Always a Safe Bet

In most cases, a green cemetery will require that any plants that are put into the ground be native to the immediate area. That means the plant grows naturally in the environment without human intervention. As the National Wildlife Federation explains, native plants “formed symbiotic relationships with native wildlife over thousands of years, and therefore offer the most sustainable habitat.” Native plants are also less likely to become invasive or harmful to the habitat if they are native to the environment. 

Using native plants helps to maintain the natural ecosystem in the green cemetery. Native plants are also more likely to thrive without the need of fertilizers and pesticides, both of which aren’t allowed in green cemeteries.  

Not sure which plants are native to the area? The National Wildlife Federation’s Native Plant Finder is a really helpful tool. All you have to do is enter a zip code to see a list of native plants.

Ask the Cemetery For Guidance

We highly suggest that you discuss your ideas with the cemetery. They may have an approved planting list that will determine what can and can’t be planted. The groundskeepers will also be able to provide information on what grows naturally on the grounds.

There could also be other limitations that affect what is planted. For example, many green cemeteries limit planting to the burial mound only. That means larger plants that spread out may not be allowed. There may also be different guidelines that have to be followed depending on where the gravesite is within the cemetery.

Stay Away From Unnatural Adornments

If you plan to put a bouquet at the gravesite that’s usually not a problem so long as it’s all-natural. This means everything must be biodegradable. No dyed paper, tissue, string, cards or trinkets can be included with flowers and greenery. 

Read this article on environmentally-friendly flower arrangements for more tips on what to avoid. 

Think Organic

A good approach to selecting plants for a green burial site is to think organic. You want nothing but purely plant matter that hasn’t been affected by manmade chemicals like pesticides. It’s also possible that the green cemetery will require that plants be organic for these very reasons.

Think Long Term

A green burial site will require much less maintenance than a traditional gravesite. One reason for this is because things should be kept as natural as possible. Choosing native plants and all-natural flower arrangements is often required because the goal is to not disturb the surroundings in the short term or the long term. Everything should be 100% biodegradable over time so that even if it isn’t maintained it won’t have an unnatural impact.

For more information, read our guide on long-term care for a green burial site

At Green Cremation Texas we work directly with green cemeteries to ensure a smooth transition from cremation to the burial service. We’re happy to provide information on local green cemeteries and what to consider if you plan to bury the cremated remains.  Give us a call, text or email anytime of day.

Picture of Marlaena Gonzales

Marlaena Gonzales

Funeral Director
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