Urn Burial: Here's What You Need to Know About Burying Ashes

Today, we're going to talk about cremation urn burial. How, why, and what your options are.

We'll guide you to everything you need to know about burying ashes in a cemetery, at home, and more.

(Note: This post is primarily about human cremation urn burial. But everything applies almost entirely the same to pet ashes and pet urn burial.)

Urn Burial Options

There are several ways you can go about burial of cremated remains:

Additionally, there are essentially three types of locations where you can bury the ashes:

  • In a cemetery
  • At home
  • Out in the wild

We're going to look at this in more detail. We'll start with where to bury the ashes. As we do so, we'll explain how this is done at each location.

Where to Bury an Urn

Urn Burial in a Cemetery

Cemeteries will typically require you to bury the ashes inside a cremation urn vault. This is a container that encloses the urn and keeps the cemetery grounds from caving in and becoming uneven as the urn breaks down over time.

Learn more here: Using Burial Vaults to Bury & Protect Cremation Urns

Also, this is a valuable resource: 13 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Cemetery

Urn Burial at Home

Did you know you can legally bury the urn on your own private property? Of course you can - it's your property!

Whether you bury the ashes in the container they came in, a nice urn, a vault, directly into the ground, or scatter on top of the ground, it's entirely up to you. As long as you own your property (or have the permission of the property owner) you can bury or scatter, and it will be at no cost to you.

Please note - this is general information, not legal advice. Consult a funeral director in your area to confirm, as state and local laws may vary.

Ashes are not, generally speaking, regarded by federal law in the same way as a body. So you are free to bury or scatter remains on your own private property.

Just note that some states or cities may have different rules, regulations, or ordinances. Be sure to check with local experts to be 100% certain.

Urn Burial Out in Nature

This option will vary a bit. You'll need to contact the owner or manager of the land on which you want to bury the urn. If it is, say, a state park or national forest, you'll have to obtain permission from the National Parks Service or local department in order to bury or scatter ashes there.

However, if you connect with the managers who live and work in your area, you may have a better chance at getting approval. You will probably be required to scatter, bury the ashes directly in the ground, or use a biodegradable urn designed for ground burial.

More info...

Learn more about burying urns here: How are Cremation Urns Buried?

How to Bury an Urn

  1. Check with a local cemetery to see if there are any laws or regulations in your area
  2. Dig a hole at least 36" deep, and 6"+ wider than the dimensions of the urn or vault
  3. Make sure the depth of the hole is at least 12" deeper than the top of the urn
  4. Make sure you are comfortable with the depth at which the urn is buried
  5. Place the urn or vault into the hole. Now is a good time to say a few words
  6. Cover the urn/vault with dirt
  7. There should be a mound of dirt several inches high when you're done, to allow for the earth to settle
  8. Optional: Mark the location with a grave marker or headstone, and note the location in your phone's GPS

It's best to end up with at least 6" of earth on top of the urn at a very minimum. 12-24" would be better. This depth discourages disruption by animals and helps ensure security in the event of typical nature or outdoor events (i.e., flooding, excessive rainfall, a tractor driving over it or a tree falling on it).

Where to Find an Urn or Burial Vault

We may be a little biased, but we've worked hard to create and curate the best collection of beautiful cremation urns, eco-friendly biodegradable urns, and urn burial vaults anywhere in the world. So you'll forgive us for thinking that Urns Northwest is the best place on the planet to find the urn and/or vault for your loved one's ashes.

Here are 12 of our all-time favorite urns. We suggest starting your search by browsing those options.

From there, you should check out our: