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National Cemetery Administration

Site Elements/Features - Grading, Drainage and Planting

Retain the site in as natural a state as possible. Keep grading to a minimum, while meeting the functional requirements of the cemetery. To the extent feasible, balance on-site cut and fill. Leave undisturbed such features as natural drainage ways, valuable trees or tree groups, shrubs, ground covers, rock out-croppings and streams. Siltation or increased turbidity of natural wetland areas should be avoided to comply with applicable regulations. The design should use construction practices that minimize adverse effects on the natural habitat.

The planting design should articulate and strengthen the site layout. Develop interrelated patterns of open, closed or semi-enclosed spaces to suit the planned function. Concentrate planting in non-burial areas, such as trees along streets, buffer planting to screen unsightly views and plantings to separate burial sections. Each plant used should serve a purpose and together should contribute to the function and overall design intent of the cemetery master plan. In general, the development should use regionally native plants and employ landscaping practices and technologies that conserve water and prevent pollution.

Prepare interment areas for seeding, sprigging and/or sodding with topsoil and proper nutrients. In non-burial areas, consider alternatives to standard turf that are suitable to drought conditions. Plant cleared slopes steeper than three to one (3:1) with ground cover other than turf. The amount of annual rainfall as well as the type of irrigation system, if any, will determine the plant material selected.

The master plan should designate a location for storage of soil spoils from interments. The area should not be visible to cemetery visitors. This same area may be used for soil processing and storage of graveliners, not too far away from active burial sections.