How Are Cremation Urns Buried?

How are cremation urns buried? The answer will depend on where you are burying the urn, plus what the urn is made from.

Here's what we'll talk about today:

  • Cemetery urn burial
  • "Green" cemetery urn burial
  • Private property urn burial
  • Other urn/ash burial options

Let's take a look at each of these in turn. But first, a common question: How deep are cremation urns buried?

How Deep Are Cremation Urns Buried?

The laws which regulate how deep to bury a cremation urn vary by region. Since cremated remains are sterile and there is virtually no need to avoid scavengers, pests, or predators, the laws (if any) or cemetery policies are much less stringent than when burying a non-cremated body.

Generally speaking, most cemeteries bury an urn approximately 3 feet deep. Some excavate the ground to 3" in depth, others ensure that there is at least 24" of earth covering the top of the urn.

Other cemeteries may require less depth. I've heard of 6" of dirt on top of the urn, as well as 12" on top. Again, most regions do not have specific laws or regulations that mandate a specific depth.

So here is the best advice on how deep to bury the cremation urn:

  1. Check with a local cemetery to see if there are any laws or regulations in your area
  2. Have at least 6" of earth on top of the urn at a very minimum, preferably 12-24"
  3. Make sure you are comfortable with the depth at which the urn is buried
  4. If in doubt, dig a 36" deep hole in which to bury the urn

How Are Cremation Urns Buried at a Cemetery?

Cemeteries will most often bury a cremation urn inside of a burial vault. A burial vault is a container that helps maintain space around the urn when buried in the ground.

To some extent, the vault protects the urn from the environment. Most cemeteries will require a vault because the vaults ensure that the cemetery grounds don't become uneven as the urn biodegrades. You will likely need a vault for burial of wood, ceramic, metal, glass, and some other types of urns.

Learn more about burial vaults here, and shop our collection of affordable urn vaults here.

Some urns can serve as their own vaults. Stone urns, such as marble, onyx, and granite urns will not decompose or break, and thus will never cause an issue with the cemetery due to decomposition. You can browse our collection of stone urns here.

So how are cremation urns buried at a cemetery? Typically, with one of these options:

  1. Urn placed inside a burial vault (most common)
  2. Stone urn that serves as its own burial vault
  3. Directly into the ground (if permitted by the cemetery)

How Are Cremation Urns Buried on Private Property?

You can bury a cremation urn in any way you choose on your own private property.

Place the remains directly into the ground without an urn, bury any type of urn from eco-friendly biodegradable urns to wood urns to stone urns, or bury the urn in an urn burial vault. It's up to you.

How Are Cremation Urns Buried at a "Green" Cemetery?

Green cemeteries will typically have their own policies regarding what urns can and cannot be buried. Some will only allow all-natural products with no synthetic glues, stains, or metal components. Others require products to have a "green" eco-friendly certification. You'll have to ask the cemetery for their specific policies.

But generally speaking, you can usually get or make an biodegradable urn for burial at a green cemetery, and they won't require a burial vault. They will probably have some eco-friendly burial urns you can purchase, or you can browse our collection of biodegradable ground burial urns.

Here are some types of urns that the green cemetery will allow you to bury on their grounds:

  • Paper/cardboard/paper mache urns
  • Natural wood urns
  • Ceramic urns
  • Sand, gelatin, or salt urns

Other Urn Burial Options

Here are a few other burial options for cremated remains, with or without the urn.

  • Scattering: You can scatter the ashes at some cemeteries or church grounds, on private property (your own, or that of a friend or family member), out at sea, or on some public lands with the proper permission.
  • Burial without an urn: You can bury the remains directly into the ground without using an urn. Options are essentially the same as scattering; the only difference is that you are placing the ashes directly into the earth.
  • In a vault without an urn: If the cemetery requires a burial vault, you can place the plastic bag of remains directly into the vault. Or just use the cardboard box/"temporary urn" that the remains come in. No need to purchase a separate urn.

Cremation Urns

We encourage you to shop around for the perfect cremation urn for your loved one's ashes. Whether you are burying the urn now, keeping it at home then burying it later, scattering, or any other option, there are many beautiful urns that will help you care for your loved one's remains with dignity and respect.

Here are 12 of the all-time most popular urns that our customers have loved.

You can also learn how to easily save some cash on the urn purchase here, or simply start shopping our extensive collection of memorial urns here.