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National Cemetery Administration


Cemetery Components - Entry Features

FunctionPicture of a cemetery's main entrance 

The Entry Feature welcomes the visitor to a Veterans cemetery and establishes the character of the cemetery grounds within. This entry area impacts the visitor and creates a sense of arrival at the Veterans cemetery.

The Entry Feature is symbolic of a gateway to a "veterans shrine" and provides a link to historical and traditional cemetery "entrance gates" which may be unique in form. This entry feature gives the arriving or departing visitor a feeling of transition into or out of the cemetery. The Entry Feature should be designed to impart respect and serenity and should be designed to reflect permanence and durability with a minimum of maintenance.

While a simple, swinging metal gate is the most recognizable element in the traditional Entry Feature, the entire entrance should be designed to achieve the goal. It is a method of controlling access to a state cemetery. Gates may be closed after normal visiting hours. Many times, a decorative fence structure extends the gate element and helps provide a sense of arrival and definition along the frontage of the cemetery. It is not always necessary or desirable to fully enclose the entire site with perimeter fencing. Such decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.

The entry also features landscape plantings to provide seasonal color and groupings of compatible trees and low maintenance plantings. A flag element may also be included.

Signage is an essential element of the entry feature. Such signage should be compatible with the overall architecture of the facility.


Cemetery identification is a component of the entrance area. The Entry Feature should include the following elements in its design:

  • The State Veterans Affairs Seal, Territorial or Tribal Government seal or insignia, at least two feet in diameter.
  • The words "(NAME) Cemetery" in lettering clearly visible from the public street (approach road).

Most entrances feature a double width road, divided for traffic control at the "entry gate." This separates entering and exiting visitors.

Landscape should be used to accentuate the entrance. In dry climates, xeriscape landscape design is appropriate to ensure continuing vegetation. Allow space in between the plants for perennials and annuals added for seasonal color and special events.

A directory sign may be included in a pull off, a short distance from the gate.

Related Items:

  • Avenue of Flags
  • Cortege Area/Optional Cemetery Directory
  • Administration Building

Design Requirements

Architecturally, the Entry Feature relates to the other project structures within the cemetery by using similar materials and design patterns and texture. Low-scale landscape plantings enhance and draw attention to the entrance area and gate. Landscaping should use seasonal plantings to vary colors in this area.

A chain or two swinging or sliding gates are an integral part of the entry design, and are useful to control access to the cemetery. Provide a divided double width entrance for traffic control at the "entry gate." The structure should be properly set back to ensure safe entry from busy roads. Provide vertical curbing to keep cars from driving over the turf or plantings.

A Veterans cemetery name sign should be placed horizontally at the center of the entry feature wall and gate. The sign should be visible from the approach road and illuminated between dusk and dawn. This name sign will be designed and included in the project construction documents.


The cost to build an Ornamental Fence is approximately $150 per linear foot for definition of the Entry Feature area, not for enclosure of the entire site.

The Entry Feature costs $75,000 and may include walls, signage, up-lighting, and landscaping.

Additional Photos

Picture of a cemetery's main entrance.
Picture of a cemetery's main entrance.
Picture of a cemetery's main entrance.