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Grounds Care, Plants, Decorations

Plarson L2 A2697 2 Original

Winter Season at the Cemetery

While doing Fall Cleanup in your yard, remember to check your relative's graves as well.

  • By the end of October, families must remove all items left at the grave through the summer -- including flower pots and decorative items.
  • Annuals should be cut down or removed and left in the trash bins at the side of the road.
  • Each in-ground burial space may be decorated with one wreath, between Nov. 1 and March 31. This means one wreath at any given time — so you may place a Thanksgiving-themed wreath, then remove it for a Christmas one, etc. Wreaths placed in the winter months may be of natural or artificial materials.

Any items remaining at the grave after October 31 are removed by the grounds maintenance team and discarded.

The water on the grounds is shut off before frost is likely. The trash bins are removed before snow arrives.

What is the family responsibility in tending graves?

Families are responsible for the upkeep of each grave. This includes keeping the headstones clean and in good repair, having them righted if they are heaved by roots or frost, and keeping any family-planted shrubs at the correct height and properly trimmed and weeded.

There are rules concerning what family and friends may place at the grave in remembrance or as decoration. Most of the rules exist to ensure that the cemetery is safe for visitors and grounds crew. Others exist to ensure that the overall appearance of the entire section and cemetery is pleasing and for the most part, not cluttered. You may download a one page summary below.

Read the second question below to learn the basics on "framing" a headstone with mulch.

My loved one’s headstone is sinking! What can I do?

Usually, the headstone is not sinking. In most cases, it’s the turf continuing to grow around a headstone that is staying right in place. What to do?

  • Trim back the turf.
  • Place mulch around the stone. See the next question to learn how.

If these don’t address the situation, please call the office. If we cannot repair the headstone, we will refer you to one of the local monument companies who have specialized equipment for this type of work.

How do I “frame” a headstone with mulch?

  • For a more polished look, you may cut a “frame” around the stone, no more than 5-6” wide on each side, and remove the turf right down to the soil below.
  • Graves are very narrow. It’s important that you do not “spread out” and extend your work onto the next grave.
  • The frame you create should be no more than 6 inches out from the headstone in any direction.
  • Place the turf you removed next to the trash bins along the side of the cemetery roads. Then in the frame, place natural bark mulch.
  • You can mix a weed preventer like Preen in as well, to keep weeds from taking advantage of the space you created.

I have questions about plantings.

Whether or not you may plant at a grave is determined by a combination of factors, from the style of the headstone permitted at the grave to rules that are individual to the cemetery. Please read the one-page summary found below, and call the office if you are unsure. It’s always a good idea to get approval for your plans ahead of time.

What about artificial flowers, statues and décor?

Artificial flowers, wreaths or other décor are not permitted in the months when we mow — April 1 to Oct. 31. They can fall into pieces and damage mowing equipment. Decorative items, statues, toys, or anything breakable are not permitted.

How are the cemeteries maintained?

Erie Cemetery Association employs a full time grounds crew at each of our three cemeteries. Their most important responsibility is to perform the work for each interment professionally, and to treat the families visiting the cemetery with care and respect.

Each crew is additionally tasked with the job of maintaining the cemetery property year round:

  • They mow the grass every day it is possible to mow, from “green-up” to the first snow. On average, every area of each cemetery is visited by the mowers and trimmers each week. If you believe the grass is “never” mowed in your area, but you only visit on Wednesdays…make a visit on Friday and see if that is the day when it’s freshly cut.
  • In addition, the crews spend the warmer months trimming trees and shrubs in the cemetery’s “common” areas; maintain roads, waterlines, ponds, drainage, paths, chapels and other structures. They pour concrete foundations under all of the new headstones in each cemetery. They are also responsible for removing trash from the grounds.
  • With the first snow, their responsibilities shift to snow removal and plowing, in addition to their regular burial work.
  • Additionally, they are the go-to help when our visitors are lost, have a question, or need assistance.

We feel fortunate to have such a hardworking crew at each cemetery.