Columbaria, Urn Gardens
and Scattering Sites

The interment of cremated remains

As cremation becomes a more common practice, cemetery operators and funeral homes are finding many new methods of accommodating cremated remains. In fact, there are now some cemeteries that solely house cremated remains. (These are often referred to as gardens rather than cemeteries, however.)


A columbarium is the traditional location for the placement of a cremation urn. It's often a small building or wall located on cemetery grounds - you might think of it as a mausoleum for cremation urns. Generally, there are a number of urns housed in any given columbarium, although singular columbaria do exist. A columbarium can also be personalized and may be found in a room or wall of a traditional mausoleum.

When you place an urn in a columbarium, it will go into a niche. You'll need to know the dimensions of the niche so that you can accommodate the urn to the space available. In some cases you may have room to add some other mementoes with the urn, while in others specific urns might not even fit. It is best to find out the average dimensions of most niches before you purchase an urn.

Some columbaria will have glass display fronts, or memorial plaques attached for each particular niche. It is common for families to purchase a columbarium that will house all its members. 

Urn Garden

Some cemeteries will have an urn garden. These consist of plots, much like traditional cemetery plots, only smaller. You may be able to place urns like stepping stones.

Scattering Gardens

Some cemeteries have set aside special areas for scattering gardens. The deceased can still be memorialized in the area with a plaque, which may be fastened to a bench or a special wall. Some public areas, land or water, have also been set aside for the purpose of scattering ashes.  

Scattering on Water

In most coastal areas of the US, cremated ashes are to be scattered three miles or more from shore. There are some areas that are exceptions to this. For example, in Great South Bay, in the state of New York , it's legal to drop cremated ashes off the dock.

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