array of gravestones in the cemetery

Keeping Dignity: How Should Cemeteries Be Maintained?

Cemeteries have become more than the dead’s final resting place. It has also become a place where the living can spend time, reflect, and bond with loved ones.

It is also important to maintain the cemetery design and keep its original beauty. Cemetery maintenance is also important, like how we take care of our own yards.

Who maintains a cemetery?

A sexton refers to an office of a person or group in charge of cemetery care. In layman’s terms, a sexton is a cemetery’s official caretaker. Sextons also maintain a church structure and the nearby graveyard.

The word “sexton” originated from a Latin word that translates to a person who takes care of sacred objects.

A Sexton may be responsible for one or more of the following:

  • Keeping detailed records of people buried in the cemetery, including those that are moved to other cemeteries
  • Keeping and updating cemetery maps, including the lot layouts
  • Lawn mowing, weeding, tree and shrub trimming, road maintenance, etc.
  • Opening and closing cemetery gates as per schedule
  • Providing protection and security for the cemetery and its properties
  • Keeping the key duplicates for crypts and mausoleum

Cemetery maintenance

Cemetery maintenance is important just like you take care of your own backyard. Unfortunately, not all cemeteries receive the right kind of care it needs. It causes unkempt grass, bald spots on the ground, and soil erosion. Poorly-maintained cemeteries also have poor watering practices and soil fertility.

Here are some ways to keep cemeteries in optimal condition:

Soil tests

There are inexpensive DIY tests that you can use to test soil fertility and quality. On the other hand, many state agricultural services offer low-cost or free soil testing. By testing the soil, adjustments can be done to improve soil quality. Experts recommend soil testing once every three years.


Lawns can be resilient against weed. However, too much weed on the cemetery lawn requires immediate treatment. Since cemeteries are considered commercial property, they should be mowed more often. More than aesthetic appeal, weeding should be done as part of the regular maintenance budget.


To ensure that lawn grass will grow well, it is important to maintain soil moisture. An irrigation system can be a great idea. However, it can damage gravesites and gravestones.

Plus, it can be too costly even to maintain an irrigation system, let alone an entire cemetery. One better alternative is installing frost proof hose bibs to allow better water access.

Gravestone maintenance

Headstones in a cemetery with red tulips

Gravestones deteriorate over time due to exposure to different outdoor elements. These elements can cause erosion, discoloration, and the formation of moss. That is why it is important to maintain gravestones to ensure its longevity.

Here are some tips to maintaining and preserving a gravestone:

  • Use a tile or stone sealer on a headstone or gravestone to preserve its appearance. You can also use a consolidator to seal the stone.
  • Do not use alkaline-based or acidic cleaning chemicals. Also, never use household cleaners such as muriatic acid and chlorine bleach. Experts recommend using distilled water and non-ionic detergent to clean the gravestone.
  • Clean gravestones at least once every ten years. Instead of using an abrasive brush, use soft-bristled plastic brushes.
  • Hire professional tombstone cleaners when necessary.

Proper cemetery maintenance is important to ensure the place’s optimal condition. At the same time, it is also a way to pay respect to our dead loved ones.

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