What Is a Cremation Scattering Garden?
A cremation scattering garden is a designated area where you can spread a loved ones ashes. Learn about this concept and additional tips here.
One of the notable benefits of cremation is that it offers us creative freedom in honoring our loved ones. Mourners may add ashes to jewelry or vinyl records; some turn them into art pieces, others scatter them at sea, and a few even launch them into space.
There is virtually no limit to the unique ways to embody the spirit and passion that made our loved ones so treasured in life.
If you struggle with finding an appropriate tribute to your lost family and friends, a scattering garden is one of the more beautiful, fulfilling, and down-to-earth options available.
What Is a Scattering Garden?
There is often a section for a scattering garden in cemeteries. These gardens are usually beautiful, well-tended areas within a cremation garden where families are welcome to scatter ashes.
A scattering garden gives family members a common spot to peacefully honor those who have passed. Ashes may be buried just below the soil’s surface, or mourners may rake them into the earth. They are seen as a natural fertilizer, allowing visitors to view the flowers and foliage as an extension of their departed loved ones.
Gardens will usually be outfitted with benches to give visitors time to reflect in comfort. Cemeteries also offer various ways to memorialize the dead. Like a cemetery plot and various scattering services, there are plans and costs associated with a scattering garden.
A scattering garden is a place for future generations to connect with relatives, so most cemeteries will provide a memorial marker of some kind. There may be a plaque with the names of the deceased, or they may be included on walls or benches.
Depending on the garden’s upkeep, the type of monument you incorporate, and the general cemetery costs, the price for a spot in a scattering garden can range from $100 to over $1,000.
Benefits of a Cemetery Scattering Garden
A scattering garden may seem expensive, but it does offer important peace of mind.
Few people understand that despite the number of appropriate ways to spread ashes, there are also legal limitations to the process. Although you may consider scattering ashes at a favorite fishing spot, for example, your state’s government could require a permit, or they might ban scattering altogether.
Cremation gardens in Texas are an excellent alternative to scattering on public land. Although the state government is lenient on scattering, local city or county regulations may levy fines for unauthorized scattering. Many parks will also charge a small fee for a permit to scatter ashes, as well as the normal entrance fee.
If there is a special place that you want to scatter ashes, and the government allows it, you can still take advantage of a scattering garden. A garden memorial is not all-or-nothing. Many people prefer to scatter some ashes in the garden and some at sea or elsewhere.
By scattering ashes in this way, you get the best of both worlds — a special ceremony and a permanent resting place. There is little risk of ashes becoming displaced in a scattering garden or the memorial falling into disrepair. Family members and their children will have access to an enduring space for remembrance, reflection, and celebration.
Can I Set Up a Scattering Garden at Home?
To avoid the costs of cemetery scattering gardens and make the garden more convenient, you can set up a scattering garden on your personal property. If the deceased had property still owned by their widow or widower, you could also negotiate a spot there. In many ways, it provides a more meaningful connection to a place of shared experiences and fond memories.
Spreading ashes on private property has one significant drawback — property can change hands. If you plan to keep your home for generations to come, then an at-home scattering garden may be appropriate. Otherwise, avoid the risk of your loved ones’ memorial garden being dismantled, and arrange a spot in a cemetery.
Tips for an At-Home Scattering Garden
One reason that governments regulate the spreading of ashes is that they can have negative effects on the environment. Ashes are generally considered non-toxic and safe to scatter, thus the minor rules in most areas, but their mineral composition doesn’t promote plant growth.
If you do plan to scatter ashes in a garden full of healthy plants, you’ll have to limit the amount you include. On the plus side, cremation ashes contain some nutrients like phosphorous and potassium, which are essential to plant growth.
Unfortunately, that’s where the benefits of ashes end. Ashes have a high pH and level of sodium, both of which need to be fixed to prevent plants from dying.
To make it easy, larger plants that have been around for a while will generally tolerate ashes without any prep work. If there’s a special tree that bears some significance, it doesn’t take any time to set up a small shrine and scatter ashes.
Growing Plants in Ashes
If you want to grow a garden from scratch with ashes mixed into the soil, it is possible, but it takes extra time and effort. If you can, limit the ratio of the ashes to soil as much as possible. You can do this by making a larger plot or setting ashes aside for a separate scattering ceremony.
Before you can use ashes in the soil to grow plants, you’ll need to neutralize the pH and manage the sodium levels. Products available online can be mixed with ashes to create an appropriate soil for scattering or planting. These blends can take up to four months to lower the pH and sodium to tolerable levels.
To make it easier to manage, many of these special soils are sold in bio-degradable urns. All you do is plant it, and by the time the urn breaks down, the soil is balanced and ready to accommodate plants.
Instead of using specialty products, you can try soil additives like aluminum sulfate or sulfur to lower the pH. Meanwhile, activated charcoal, compost, and plenty of watering will help minimize the salt content of the soil. Both processes can take several months before you get results.
What to Plant
When ashes are correctly prepped for the soil, there aren’t many limits to what you can grow. It all depends on your definition of practical and convenient.
If you want a low maintenance garden, you can choose from a long list of colorful perennials that bloom year in and year out without much prompting, such as:
- Blazing star
- Black-eyed Susan
- Garden phlox
You can also find several ferns, shrubs, and trees to fill out large garden areas.
Another excellent idea that keeps your loved one symbolically involved in your life is a vegetable or fruit garden. Planting ashes for an apple tree, for instance, is a way for the deceased to continually provide for their loved ones and their descendants.
If you’re concerned about the impact that ashes will have on flowers and plants in your garden, you can safely add ashes to the landscaping in other ways. It’s easy to add ashes to stone items, so there are many opportunities to make them part of a well-designed memorial garden.
You can put ashes into decorative stones, benches, or fountains, adding another design layer without hurting the soil. You could also scatter ashes into a walking path if there is a barrier separating it from plants.
The Scattering Ceremony
A scattering garden offers a great deal of versatility for those who wish to honor the dead. If you do a ceremony at a cremation garden, the cemetery may arrange tent set-ups, flowers, and more.
The standard scattering ceremony begins with the next of kin spreading ashes and raking them into the soil. Other attendees may also spread ashes to give each person a personal moment.
If some family members or friends can’t attend a ceremony, you can still save some ashes for them. That flexibility is one of the convenient benefits of a scattering garden. It’s there for any person to have a meaningful moment of solemn reflection.
Consider a Scattering Garden for Your Loved Ones
A scattering garden provides several benefits with little compromise. As both a lasting tribute and a distinctive artistic creation, it satisfies family members on several deep, emotional levels. If you are planning a cremation for yourself or a loved one, a scattering garden is a worthwhile consideration.
When it comes time to arrange a cremation, the scattering ceremony is one of many aspects to consider. At Lone Star Cremation, we strive to provide the highest-quality care in creating truly exceptional memorials that appropriately honor the lives and values of the departed. Contact us today to learn more about our cremation and memorial service options.
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