Today, we're going to talk about cremation urns for burial. How to bury ashes in an urn, 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:
- In the so-called "temporary urn" that comes with it
- In a nicely upgraded cremation urn
- With the urn placed inside a burial vault (many cemeteries require this)
- In a stone/marble urn that serves as the burial vault
- Using an eco-friendly, biodegradable urn for a more "natural" burial
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.
Learn more about burying urns here: How are Cremation Urns Buried?
How to Bury an Urn
- Check with a local cemetery to see if there are any laws or regulations in your area
- Dig a hole at least 36" deep, and 6"+ wider than the dimensions of the urn or vault
- Make sure the depth of the hole is at least 12" deeper than the top of the urn
- Make sure you are comfortable with the depth at which the urn is buried
- Place the urn or vault into the hole. Now is a good time to say a few words
- Cover the urn/vault with dirt
- There should be a mound of dirt several inches high when you're done, to allow for the earth to settle
- 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).
Urn Burial FAQ
What type of urn is best for burial?
If the cemetery you have chosen allows you to bury without a vault, the best urns would be granite, marble, or cultured marble. You can still bury these urns, even if the cemetery requires the use of a vault. The makeup of granite, marble, or cultured marble will not disintegrate.
Can you bury only part of the ashes?
Yes, you can bury only part of the ashes. It is quite common for a family to save back a small amount of cremated remains in a keepsake urn. Most cemeteries want to know the amount of cremated remains that are being interred.
Can you bury two urns in one cemetery plot?
Burying two urns in one plot will be up to the cemetery and what their rules are. Most cemeteries will allow up to three urns in one space. Checking on the rules before making plans is the prudent route to go.
Where can you get an urn for burial?
You can purchase a burial urn at any funeral home, most cemeteries, and of course online.
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:
- Ground burial urns
- Urn burial vaults
- Stone urns (which essentially can serve as their own vault)
- All cremation urns
Best Cremation Urns for Burial
Let's take a look at some specific urns, shall we? Each of these cremation urns are either durable urn/vaults made from stone or intentionally biodegradable urns that will return your loved one's remains to the earth as naturally as possible.
Engraved Granite Photo Urn
Upload your favorite photo of your loved one to personalize this beautiful black granite urn with a laser-etched picture.
By including your loved one’s name, dates, and even a short message, you can make it uniquely their own. The white and black detail with the distinctive shape of our urn will only enhance the chosen engravings.
Made in the USA from cultured granite, this urn is perfectly suitable for burial or displaying in your home.
Mystic Blue Cultured Marble Burial Urn
Laser engraving the Mystic Blue Cultured Marble Burial Urn will give it that final touch of class. Engrave with your loved one’s name, dates, and even a message. Add a colored filler to the laser etching and it will only enhance the memorial tribute to your loved one.
This refined urn is suited for burial or perfectly designed for display in your home.
Plant a Tree from Ashes
To uniquely memorialize your loved one, use our Biodegradable Memorial Tree Urn. Personalize this particular burial urn by supplying your own choice of seeds, and you will create a true celebration of your loved one.
Watch the impressive display growing and coming to life will surely keep your loved one close to you, in your heart and memories.
It is essential to know that our biodegradable urn is relatively small and will only hold about 35 cubic inches of cremated remains. One pound of body weight requires one cubic inch capacity. Example: If your loved one weighed 200 pounds, you would need approximately 200 cubic inches. That would be equivalent to 6 of these biodegradable urns.
Learn more about these unique memorial here.
Legacy Round Marble Cremation Urn
Crafting this exquisite hand-turned natural marble urn is individual every time. The real, genuine marble is quarried naturally and will show off different colors and veins, making no two the same.
Personalize this piece for your loved one by adding their name and dates and you will make it a stunning memorial that you can proudly display at the funeral.
If honoring your loved one by burial, this genuine solid marble urn is also perfectly suitable for interment. Its durability will stand the test of time. Made in the USA.
Camouflage Cultured Marble Burial Urn
This tastefully designed Camouflage Cultured Marble Urn is available in a single or double size urn. Memorialize your loved one by engraving their name/names and dates on the front of it.
Ideal for a military service member or hunting/outdoors enthusiast, the dappling of green and tan that runs through the black background is unique in every urn.
The double size urn presents an option that allows a couple to be placed together for eternity. This urn is suited for display or burial and will endure through time.
Wine Red Cultured Marble Burial Urn
Our Wine Red Cultured Marble Urn comes in two sizes; single or double. This uncomplicated design allows for engraving of names, dates, appliques, or even a message that adds personality to this urn.
The subtle streaks of white that run through the marble only add to the beauty of the urn. Crafted in the USA from cultured marble gives you a choice to display or inter your loved one’s urn.
Natural Green Marble Companion Urns for Burial
Our Natural Green Marble Companion Urn comes in two differently designed companion urns. You can choose a single compartment or double compartment urn.
The single-chamber has one open space on the inside, and will allow for co-mingling of cremated remains.
Alternatively, the double-chamber will allow two sets of cremated remains to be placed inside, separated, yet still in the same urn.
The marble is quarried and carved into shape. Veins of white and black run their way through the background of green. Each urn is unique in its coloring variations.
Personalization of this urn will make an exceptional memorialization for your loved one. This urn is elegant enough to be displayed in your home but is durable and perfectly suited for burial.
Garden Stone Granite Urn
Our Garden Stone Granite Urn is quarried from solid granite in a rich brown tone. This urn can be displayed indoors but is exceptionally beautiful placed in a garden area. Create an unforgettable tribute space outdoors and visit your loved one as often as you’d like. Adding your loved one’s name, dates, and selected artwork will only enhance this distinguished piece.
This admirable memorial is somewhat heavy at 60 pounds. It will make a perfect tribute and will last through all the years to come.
Biodegradable White Hemp Urn for Burial
When you're looking for an eco-friendly urn burial option, the Biodegradable White Hemp Urn is just the thing. It's suitable for burial in the ground, burial at sea, or storing your loved ones cremated remains.
Each urn, crafted by hand and made from natural hemp, ensures no two urns will be the same. Your loved one’s urn will be unique to them, just as they were outstanding in your life.
This earth-friendly urn comes in two different sizes—the standard size of 175 cubic inches or a smaller size of 30 cubic inches.
Crown Natural Marble Urn
Our Crown Natural Marble Urn will stand the test of time, whether buried in the earth or displayed in your home. This urn will be a dignified tribute to your loved one. Adding their name and dates will only enhance this naturally quarried, hand-turned urn.
The white marble has distinguishing black veins running through it. Each piece of marble is different and will ensure your loved one’s urn is unique unto them.
Cultured Onyx Burial Urn in Teal
Crafted in the USA, the Cultured Onyx Burial Urn in Teal is a perfect tribute to your loved one. The teal veining running through the white onyx is stunning and unique to each urn. Adding the name and dates of your loved one will make your tribute complete.
Our urn will not degrade if buried but is equally beautiful to be displayed. Most cemeteries will allow this urn without a vault.
Viewpoint Natural Marble Pillar Cremation Urn
Designed to stand the test of time, our Viewpoint Natural Marble Pillar Urn is a perfect choice for burial. The elegance of solid marble in black with white veining is a fitting tribute to your loved one’s memory.
Complete your memorial by adding your loved one’s name and dates to the front of the urn. The natural marble will vary in color and dappling, making every urn genuinely unique.
Please note that any of the urns above can be buried directly into the ground. For most other types of urns (aside from stone and eco-friendly/biodegradable options) the cemetery will require a burial vault. With a burial vault, you can bury any cremation urn.