Cemetery property and monuments

In addition to funeral services and the choice of burial or cremation, cemetery property, or “interment rights,” is another consideration when you’re making final arrangements, either for yourself in advance, or for a loved one.

A common misconception that people often have when they purchase the right of interment in a cemetery is that they have purchased the land itself, when in fact what they have really purchased is the right to be interred (also referred to as buried, entombed, enniched, inurned, or scattered) on or in that particular piece of grave site grounds, columbarium niche, crypt or mausoleum.


Many cemeteries allow upright headstones, called “monuments,” to be used with ground burials. Headstones that are flat against the ground are called “markers.” In some cemeteries, or sections of cemeteries, only flat markers are used to preserve the natural appearance of the landscape or to ease caretaking. Ferguson Funeral Homes can provide its client families with a listing of local monument suppliers or engravers upon request.


Most people are familiar with the concept of burial, or “interment,” but may not be aware of the variety of options that are often available. Many cemeteries offer one or more of the following:

  • Ground Burial: burial of the casket or urn below ground. An “outer burial container” – a vault or graveliner – is required at many cemeteries for the interment of caskets.
  • Mausoleum, or Community Mausoleum: a large building that provides above-ground entombments which may be indoor or outdoor in nature.
  • Private Family Mausoleum: a small structure that provides above-ground entombment of, on average, two to 12 decedents.
  • Companion Crypt: permits two interments or entombments side-by-side.
  • Private Family Estate: a small section within a cemetery, usually bordered by gates, shrubbery, or other dividers, that allows for ground burial of several members of the same family – sometimes utilized for members of religious orders or faiths or special memberships such as lodges or service orders.


Many people overlook the importance of cemetery property for those who choose cremation, but permanent placement, or “final disposition,” of the ashes or “cremated remains” is an important part of final arrangements. Just consider the following:

  • A permanent site gives loved ones a physical place for visitation and reflection.
  • The ceremony accompanying the placement of an urn in a cremation niche or a cremation garden in a cemetery provides family and friends with a time to recognize the finality and closure after the loss of a loved one.
  • When ashes of a loved one are kept with relatives, it is possible for them to become misplaced or inadvertently discarded through the years, as future generations may lose that sense of connection to the deceased.
  • A permanent placement provides future generations with a location to visit and a public record of the final disposition when researching heritage.

Some common methods of final disposition of cremated remains are:

  • Cremation Niche: an above-ground space to accommodate cremation urn(s).
  • Columbarium: may be freestanding or located within an mausoleum or chapel and constructed of numerous niches designed to hold urns – may be glass fronted or solid faced for inscription purposes.
  • Cremation Garden: a dedicated section of a cemetery designed for the burial, scattering or other permanent placement of ashes.
  • Interment: a cremation plot or standard grave may be purchased for the interment of one or more urns providing options for grave markings/monuments.
  • Memorial Benches/plaques: benches or plaques that either simply memorialize a loved one scattered or buried in a cremation garden, or actually contain the remains within.
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