How Deep Is a Cremation Grave?

While there are no national guidelines stating how deep a cremation grave should be, most burial sites bury cremated remains three feet deep. You can use this as a general rule while burying cremains.

According to statistics, about 35.2 percent of cremated remains are buried in cemeteries. But how deep a cremation grave should be?

There are no federal laws and guidelines in the United States dictating how deep you should bury cremated ashes. Every region and burial site can have its own rules that you’ll need to follow.

You might have read/heard the term “six feet under” in western literature or music lyrics. But it has little to do with the actual depth of a cremation grave.

In this article, we’ll discuss how deep a cremation grave should be and what factors can affect its depth depending on the burial location.

How Deep a Cremation Grave Should Be

As mentioned above, most cemeteries bury cremated remains three feet deep. You can follow this as a general guideline, especially if you’re burying ashes on your own property, such as your backyard.

How Deep a Cremation Grave Should Be

However, it’s important to note that the depth of the cremation grave can also depend on the location where you’re planning to bury the cremains.

Most Common Locations for a Cremation Grave

The following are the three different types of locations that you can choose when considering building a cremation grave.

Traditional Cemetery

Most people choose a traditional cemetery for a cremation grave to bury the ashes of their loved ones. You’ll need to purchase a plot in a local cemetery to arrange for a burial.

Traditional Cemetery

While cremation urns buried in most traditional cemeteries have a depth of three feet, you’ll need to consult with the cemetery’s management to find out the rules they follow.

Urns take little space and a cemetery can also have regulations to bury two or more urns in a single burial plot. Additionally, you might also need to buy an urn vault, depending on the rules, to ensure support from the earth above, just like a burial vault.

It’ll shield the urn from the environmental elements and keep the ground from sinking to protect the grave from decaying.

If you’re planning to bury cremated remains on top of an existing grave of one of your late family members, you’ll need to ask the cemetery’s management. They’ll inform you whether it’s possible or not.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that there isn’t always sufficient space to bury an urn with ashes above an existing grave with a casket.

Cremation Garden

A cremation garden, also known as a green cemetery or natural burial site, will also have its own rules about the depth of the grave and the type of urns you can use.

Cremation Garden

Some cremation gardens require you to use all-natural products with eco-friendly certifications. In such a case, you’ll need to use a biodegradable urn that contains no metal components, stains, or synthetic glues. Plus, you won’t need to use an urn burial vault.

Urns that most cremation gardens require are usually made of paper, cardboard, natural wood, ceramic, salt, gelatin, and sand.

Private Property

Most states allow burying the cremated remains of your loved one on your private property. Burying cremated remains in your outdoor area means that you’ll keep them nearby. 

It’ll make it easy for your and your family members to visit the burial site and keep it well-maintained.

private property

If you take this approach, then make sure that you bury the remains deep enough to keep them from the damage that environmental elements and animals can cause. You can follow the three-foot rule but if it’s not possible to dig that deep, then consider going with a depth of at least 24 inches.

But you’ll need to make sure that you take precautionary measures to protect the grave if it’s shallow. It includes covering the grave plot with sod or plant, placing mound dirt on top of the plot, and inspecting the grave regularly to see if there are any signs of decay or disturbance.

The biggest downside of burying cremains of your loved ones on your property comes when you need to sell your house. It’s something that you must consider beforehand and if you have plans to sell the property then consider burying cremains in a traditional cemetery or cremation garden.


How Deep Does a Grave Have to Be for an Urn?

Choosing a traditional cemetery is one of the most popular urn burial options and most cemeteries bury cremated remains three feet deep. 

If you want to bury the urn on your own property and it’s not possible to dig three feet deep, then you should go with a depth of at least 24 inches.

How Is a Cremated Body Buried?

A cremated body usually consists of ashes that are usually contained in a cremation urn. Typically, these urns are buried in burial vaults in a cemetery. 

If you plan to bury the ashes in a cremation garden, you’ll probably need to use a biodegradable urn and bury it without a burial vault.

Can You Bury an Urn on Top of a Casket?

Yes, it’s allowed in the USA to bury an urn with ashes on top of a casket. However, different cemeteries have different rules and regulations. So, you’ll need to consult with the management of your local cemetery to find out whether they allow you to bury an urn on top of a casket or not.

How Long Do Cremated Ashes Last in the Ground?

The duration of cremated ashes on the ground depends on the material of the urn used. If the urn is biodegradable, it’ll take about 20 years to degrade and after that, the ashes will quickly combine with the soil.

Final Words

While there is no standard rule about the depth of a cremation grave, it should ideally be three feet. Different burial sites can have different rules about the cremation grave’s depth. So, you’ll need to consult the management of the local cemetery to find out what rules they follow.

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