Caring for a loved one’s gravesite is a way to respect and honor the deceased, as well as a way to reflect on the times you had together. Many people visit the grave of their family members and friends to talk to them and reminisce. Why not make the most of your time there and clean up the gravesite? We’ve put together a few tips on how to maintain a burial site.
Cleaning the Gravestone
Most modern monuments are made from granite, which contains quartz, feldspar, mica and other minerals. It is hard and resists wear even when exposed to the elements. Years ago, softer stone such as marble, were a common gravestone material because it was easier to carve.
Although granite is a durable stone, exposure to the harsh Pittsburgh elements can cause the monument to become discolored. Cleaning granite takes care and patience to ensure it is it done properly. Items you will need to clean a granite stone include:
- Distilled water
- Spray bottle (which has only contained water, no chemical-based products)
- Plastic-free toothbrush or a natural fiber scrub brush
- Wooden popsicle sticks
Before you begin cleaning a loved one’s stone, be sure to examine it to make sure it doesn’t have any major cracks or flakes and to check its overall stability. If there are signs of deterioration, cleaning the stone could make the issue worse.
The safest way to clean the monument is to use water and natural brushes to prevent damaging the granite. Begin by wetting the stone and brushing away any built-up pollen, dirt, or other debris from the bottom of the stone up. A toothbrush can be used to gently clean out the groves of the lettering and other details on the stone.
Wooden popsicle sticks can be used to remove lichens or leafy plants that form a crust over the marker. They can be scraped away with the wooden sticks to avoid scratching or damaging the stone. After you’ve finished brushing, be sure to give it a final, thorough rinse with water to remove any other residue or left behind.
Planting and Weeding the Gravesite
Inquire with the cemetery before planting at a loved one’s gravesite to make sure that it is permitted by the cemetery. Low growing perennials and ground cover plants that are not invasive make a lovely addition to a grave. You may also want to select hardy plants that do not require a lot of watering such as irises or animal resistant plants like marigolds. Be sure to choose something that is lower maintenance and can survive heat, sun, irregular watering, and animal threats.
Keep in mind that if you plan to plant, on-going maintenance will be required to keep the plants beautiful and thriving. Be sure to regularly weed and prune the gravesite to maintain a thoughtful and beautiful presentation. If regular weeding is not an option, consider mulching around your plants to keep weeds hidden.
Get Details on the Cemetery’s Policies
During warmer weather, many people will be out to visit their loved one’s gravesite. Placing new flowers, flags, or other decorative items is a nice way to honor your loved one. Some good ideas include their favorite flowers or to something which commemorates their military service. Before placing items like this, be sure to check the policy of the cemetery to see what items they allow you to leave on the gravesite.
Keep in mind, some cemeteries may have groundskeepers who will remove and dispose of dead flowers or other items left on the gravesite. As a result, it is important to check with the cemetery to see if they do this and if so, when they do it, to avoid having sentimental items thrown away by mistake. It is best to keep the decorations on the gravesite simple with a bouquet of flower or a few mementos rather than cluttering the area with too many items.
For more gravesite maintenance tips, or to learn how Beinhauer Funeral Home & Cremation Service can help you honor your loved one, call us at 724-941-3211.