Grave Marker with Flowers

Burying Cremains (Cremated Remains) – Complete Guide


Many people choose to scatter ashes (cremains). But another common option for the final disposition of your loved one’s cremated remains is burial. Urns can be interred underground just like caskets.

Cremains is a word that has evolved from the combination of ‘cremated’ and ‘remains’ and refers to the residual matter left after cremation.

Burial of cremains requires a few more decisions.This article will guide you through choosing a location, what to expect during the process, and other general considerations when burying ashes.

Burying Cremains – Cremated Remains

Grave Marker with Flowers

One benefit of having a burial plot for cremated remains is that it allows friends and family a special space to visit. The location is fixed and generally, a marker serves as a memorial for generations to come.

By nature, scattered remains are more ethereal. Many times when ashes are scattered, it is in multiple locations or places that are difficult to visit. While this can provide a beautiful ceremony and be filled with sentimental meaning, there is no tangible resting place.

Where Can I Bury the Ashes?

There are several types of location to choose from when considering the burial of cremains. The most common choices are:

  • Cemetery
  • Urn Garden
  • Private Land
  • Natural Burial Site


Image of a Cemetery with path and bench

One choice is to bury the ashes in a traditional cemetery for caskets. You simply need to purchase a plot in the cemetery and arrange for a burial. Your funeral home or cemetery manager will assist you with the specifics. If you haven’t chosen a cemetery yet, use this tool.

Depending on the regulations of the cemetery, you may bury two or more urns in a single-sized plot, since they takes up a much smaller space than a casket.

Some cemeteries might require an urn vault. Similar to a burial vault, an urn vault provides support from the earth above. It prevents the ground (and urn) from sinking, and also shields the urn from outside elements which can lead to decay.

If you want to bury the urn on top of an existing grave (perhaps above the plot of a late spouse or family member), you will need to coordinate with the cemetery.

There is not always enough space to bury an urn above a previously buried casket. (Depends on urn size, and location). If not, a cemetery might require a separate plot or recommend entombing the urn in a columbarium instead.

 Even if the cremated remains are buried in a cemetery, you may still need to secure a burial permit. Your funeral directory or cemetery manager will help you with the local regulations.

Urn Gardens

Entombed urns in a cemetery urn garden

An urn garden is an outdoor area dedicated to the burial of cremated remains. Also called a cremation garden, this space is usually located within a cemetery.

Some urn gardens feature landscaped plots that display markers. Those with unmarked plots may feature sculptures or monuments instead. 

Urn gardens may also have benches, statues, boulders, and fountains designed to hold or incorporate cremains.

Private Land

Backyard with picket fence and table

You may also bury the ashes of your loved one on private land, such as your own garden. Even a private plot you do not own, is an option, as long as you have the permission from the owner.

Laws vary depending on location. Before proceeding with a burial on private land, we recommend checking local ordinances that may apply. Your best resource is to contact a local cemetery or funeral home and ask for advice.

Natural Burial Site

Stone Marker on Cremation Burial Plot

In burying cremated remains, you may also opt for a “green” or natural burial. This type of final disposition uses biodegradable urns to limit environmental impacts. Also, it typically does not require the use of an urn vault.

Usually, you are not able to put a permanent memorial stone or tablet as a marker, but some natural burial grounds allow a named plaque. They may also give you an option to plant a memorial tree instead.

You may have trouble finding a dedicated natural burial site in your area. But they are gaining in popularity with environmental concerns. If you are interested in a natural burial but can’t find a location, you should contact your local cemetery for a solution. 

Cost of Burying Cremains

A plot for the burial of ashes may range from $350 to $2,500 depending on various factors which include:

  • City, State (availability of land – population density))
  • Location of the cemetery
  • Location in the cemetery
  • Type and size of Burial Plot

Expenses include:

  • Urn (and vault if necessary)
  • Burial Plot
  • Service

Plot prices vary from one area to the next. Plot prices are similar to real estate prices because that is what they are. Land availability and population density factor in as well as the cemetery location within the area.

You can also expect prices to vary based on plot location within the cemetery itself. The view, trees, hills, light, surrounding areas, all play a part in desirability.

Lastly, size will obviously effect the price. Single-sized plots are generally cheaper than double or family-sized plots.

For the burial of cremains, a dedicated urn garden will offer prices that are less expensive than traditional plots because less space is required.

Types of Urns for Burying Ashes

In most locations, any urn can be used for burying cremains.

However, some cemeteries might have requirements regarding cremation burials, such as the types of urn they will accept. You should always verify directly with the cemetery for specifications before buying an urn for your loved one.  

Cremation Burial Process

You must secure a plot before the burial of the urn. The cremation staff will excavate the grave space, usually ensuring a 6-inch depth in addition to the height of the urn.

They may also provide:

  • artificial turf
  • matting
  • presentation table
  • tent (for inclement weather)

You may choose to have a short graveside service that could be led by an officiant, pastor, other member of the clergy, or even a family member.

After this, the urn is placed in a vault and then lowered into the excavated opening. A family member or the cemetery staff may be charged with the lowering of the urn. 

At this point, the family may conclude the service or remain to witness the grave being filled.

To illustrate how a cremation burial would look like, Mount Pleasant Group made this informative video.


Can you bury cremated remains?

Yes. You may bury cremated remains placed in an urn, just like caskets. Usually, there are no restrictions on the disposition of ashes such as burials.

Where can I bury cremated remains?

You may bury the ashes in a cemetery, an urn garden, private land, or a natural burial site. The usual options are burial plots located in cemeteries or urn gardens. However, you may also inter an urn on private land (such as your backyard) or a natural burial ground.(a “green” burial).

What is an urn garden?

An urn garden, also called a cremation garden, is an outdoor space set aside for the burial of cremains (cremated remains). This area is usually located within a cemetery.

What type of urn do I need in burying ashes?

It depends on your chosen location. For example, if you want to bury in a cemetery or an urn garden, these locations will have the final say on the appropriate type of urn. Usually, they will require an urn vault as well.
For natural burial grounds, it is common to use urns made of natural materials that will decompose relatively quickly. For private lands, especially if it’s in your owned plot, you may be free to choose whichever urn or container you prefer, provided that you abide by local ordinances.

Can you bury cremated remains on top of an existing grave?

Yes, as long as there is still enough space beneath the ground wherein you will bury the urn. Usually, the cemetery staff will determine if they can allow this. If they do not, you may be advised to purchase another plot or to entomb the urn in a columbarium niche.

How much does it cost to bury cremains (cremated remains)?

Burial prices may range from $350 to $2500. The price depends on several factors such as your state, the location of the burial, the type of plot you will purchase, as well as inflation.

How deep are cremation urns buried?

About six inches. Usually, you will need to secure six inches of soil on top of the urn for it to be properly buried. For example, if the urn is 12 inches high, you will need to excavate a hole that is 18 inches deep. This ensures that six inches of dirt will be placed on top of the urn.


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