1. Media Center
  2. News & Updates

Huntsville Cemetery Department asks for community’s help keeping cemeteries beautiful

Published on April 21, 2022

With spring now in full bloom, more people are visiting loved ones’ graves at City of Huntsville cemeteries. To that end, the City wants to remind people of its guidelines to keep cemeteries looking beautiful all year long.

A man in a dark blue shirt, cap and blue jeans operates a weed wacker around a headstone in a city cemetery. There are various sticks and limbs laying on the ground. The grass is green and there are trees in the background.
A cemetery maintenance employee cuts down weeds around a headstone at Maple Hill Cemetery.

Interim Cemetery Director Tara Sloan said the Cemetery Department has a small staff of 13 full-time workers and a varying number of temporary hires who trim and mow more than 100 acres of grass around nearly 100,000 monuments in nine cemeteries.

“Each cemetery is maintained every seven days during peak grass season,” she said.

When summer gives way to fall, workers transition from mowing and trimming to raking leaves and picking up sticks. Sloan said maintaining cemeteries is a year-round responsibility, which is why she asks people to adhere to guidelines and regulations.

Do’s and don’ts for grave sites

Personal items can become weathered, broken and dislodged during a storm, causing litter or debris. Items stuck in the ground create hazards for maintenance workers, as striking them with a mower or weed wacker can result in dangerous projectiles.

“We understand the loss of a loved one is a very difficult time for families, and we want to show respect for those who visit as well as the deceased,” Sloan said. “Please take a moment to consider the impacts on maintenance and the environment before leaving anything at a gravesite.”

Prohibited items include shepherd’s hooks, flags, lights, bricks/rocks, standup decorations, fencing/coping, stuffed animals, toys, food/drinks, memorabilia, vases and potted plants. The department recommends all floral arrangements be secured to the headstone/marker via a “saddle” or attached vase, which is typically part of the monument. Floral stems loose in a vase will still blow out, so Sloan recommends securing them with floral foam, tape or wire.

Also, anyone who wishes to plant a tree or shrub near or on a graveside must receive approval from the Cemetery Department before doing so.

Plots for sale

Four of the City’s cemeteries are still active, though only one – Maple Hill – still has lots for sale. Sloan said less than 300 full-size lots are still available in Block 41, though there are some spaces for cremains in Block 47. All available spaces are restricted to flat makers only.

Click here to learn more about cemetery guidelines or submit a maintenance request.