Fall Maintenance Tips for Cemeteries

September 27, 2021

An old superstition says that weeds only grow on the graves of bad people. However, those in the cemetery business know that plants do not discriminate and that cemetery lawn maintenance can be a full-time job in itself. If summertime is all about mowing, autumn is about maintaining the landscape you want. Here are a few tips for preparing your site for cold weather and keeping your cemetery insurance agent happy.

Landscaping

While raking leaves may be the most obvious task, another important autumn lawn care job is to prepare plants for winter. You should inspect trees for signs of damage that might require the aid of an arborist to prevent snow and ice from potentially toppling them. For smaller trees, you can use hand clippers to trim overhanging limbs yourself.

Planting fall flowers around signs and buildings is a nice touch. Which species will survive depends upon your growing zone, but even short-lived annuals add beautiful fall colors that visitors appreciate. Pansies, chrysanthemums, and asters are a few examples of ornamental fall bloomers.

Weeds

It takes vigilance to keep weeds out of a cemetery. As the growing season ends in early fall, lawn care professionals look forward to taking a break from pulling them. A good practice is to make a final sweep for weeds at the end of summer. Doing so removes flowers and seed heads and prevents a fresh crop from sprouting in early spring.

Spraying herbicides is not a good idea near cemetery markers because the chemicals can damage the stone. Although it is labor-intensive, hand-pulling weeds is the ideal method. You can also use a weed eater, but you must be careful not to scratch stones or wear gashes in the bases of trees.

Headstones

A final consideration is gravestones. Families usually take care of newer stones, but historical markers can fall into disrepair when relatives of the departed move away or pass on themselves. Before cleaning one, be sure you are not mistaking an older grave’s natural patina for dirt and that you use only soft brushes and plain water.

Fall is a good time to inspect for algae that can trap moisture that will expand inside a stone’s pores when temperatures dip below freezing. The seasonal process of repeated freezing and melting can crack and spall gravestones. Some types of molds secrete acidic chemicals that dissolve minerals, such as marble and concrete.

Providing lawn care for your cemetery in autumn is not any more expensive or complicated than maintaining it at other times of the year. You must shift your focus from keeping summer growth in check to raking leaves and disposing of the last weeds of the season. You also must prepare for cold weather and snow.

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