How to Install Grave Markers in a Cemetery

After choosing the color, size, shape and design you want for your loved one's memorial the next step is to approve the proof we send you. Once the proof is approved we will engrave the monument you chose to your exact specifications and then ship the headstone to your cemetery. Once at your cemetery the marker will need to be set upon your burial plot. Since grave markers are designed to mark the grave of your loved one for centuries it is important that they be installed properly. In most cases your cemetery will offer an installation service for a fee. Another option, is to contact a local monument dealer or a masonary to see if they are willing to set your stone for you for a nominal fee. Some people want to set the marker themselves to save money or just as a personal touch. But first, be aware that if you damage the monument while setting it you will be responsible for any damage that occurs. Secondly, be aware that most gravestones are heavy and weigh at least 100 pounds and some may even exceed 400 pounds in weight. In addition to the weight, because of the size in inches and the shape, they are also awkward and difficult to move around. This being said, we do not recommend that you attempt to set a larger monument yourself even if your cemetery allows it. If you do decide to set the stone yourself we highly recommend that you have someone assist you in moving and setting the grave marker. But, most importantly always check first to make sure your cemetery even allows individuals to set their own stone, as many cemteries do not allow non- professionals to set monuments.

This article is written with the intension of informing those who have clearance from their cemetery to set their monument themselves and for those who have purchased one of our lighter, less awkward individual headstone or flat grass markers, and not a double/companion grave headstone. Larger monuments and or companion headstones are just too heavy to set yourself, as they usually weigh more than 200 pounds and often require special equipment to move them safely and set them properly. With all of these warnings given, there are two different methods for installing grave markers in a cemetery, without concrete and with concrete. Each technique will be discussed in detail for you. Again, as a warning if your planning to install the grave marker yourself, first check with the cemetery to make sure self installation doesn’t conflict with their rules and regulations. Some cemeteries require any work to be handled by a licensed monument installer.

1. Installation without concrete for small markers:

This process is the most simple, but is recommended only for monuments or markers that are NO LARGER than 24" x 12" x 4". A memorial that is larger than this will not set properly without cement. Examles of this type of stone would be a flat marker such as veteran grave markers, also known as military grave markers, infant grave markers, and small granite gravestones or grass markers. The following is a list of supplies you will need to do this installation properly:


2.Tape Measure


4.Bag of sand

When you have collected all of the needed materials, use the tape measure to measure out the size of the maker on the burial plot and in the area in which you want it to be set. For the best results, measure an inch more on each side than the actual side of your memorial so that there is plenty of room for the marker to set down. For example, if the marker is a 24"x12" then make the outline 26"x14". Step two with a shovel dig the outline out completely. Once the outline is dug out entirely start excavating the dirt and setting it to the side. Make sure that you dig down deep enough to accommodate the thickness of your monument. Step three is to set the marker in the hole you have dug and use a level to ensure it lays perfectly flat. If the stone does not lay perfectly flat lift the stone out of the hole and use sand to raise the marker wherever it needs it to be level. Once the marker fits into the outline and lays level you are finished. Clean up any mess you might have made and you are finished.

2. Installation With Concrete for larger markers:

This process is a little more involved, but it is recommeded for monuments or markers larger than 24"x12"x4".

Again, we caution you to get assistance in moving and the installation of any larger marker, due to the weight and the sheer akwardness of the larger stones. This process of installation with cement is a more secure installation and this is really necessary to properly install the grave markers larger than 24" x 12" x 4". The following is a list of the supplies you will need to do the installation properly:


2.Garden Hoe

3.Tape Measure or yard stick

4.Level or laser

5.four to six re-enforced steel bars 30" in length(rebar)

6.Wire twist ties (for steel bars)


8.Empty can or PVC pipe 6"-8" in diameter (for grave markers with a vase)


10.three to four bags of ready mix concrete

11.Wheel barrow or mixing container

When you have collected all of the needed materials, Use the tape measure to measure out the exact size of the gravestone on the burial plot exactly where you want it to be set. In order to allow ample room for setting of the marker measure an inch more on each side to give the grave marker enough room to set it down. For example, if your monument measures 24" x 12" then make the outline you are going to cut be 26" x 14". Once your outline is completed step two is to dig with the shovel the outline you have prepared. Once you have the outline completely dug out then start excavating the dirt and setting it to the side. Dig down plenty deep to allow for the thickness of your marker plus an additional 4"-6". Thus making your total depth around 8"-10" deep. Once you have the dirt excavated and moved to the side use a post hole digger to complete step three. Dig two piers approximately 24" deep and 6" in width on the outside ends of the pad. (If your marker has a vase, then place the pier holes toward the bottom of the pad). Once theses pier holes are finished place 2 of the re-inforced steel bars one in each hole and use the hammer to set them down far enough so that only 3" of the bar rises above the surface. Once you have the steel bars in position, (If the memorial you chose has a vase unit, then you will need to dig a shallow hole in its place (normally at the top center portion of the grave marker). Set the coffee can or PVC sleeve in its place before proceeding to the next step. The sleeve can be removed after 2-3 hours after the concrete sets up.) The next step is to mix the concrete in a wheel barrow or other mixing container. Once the cement is ready you are ready to set your monument. Pour the mixed concrete into the ground, but make sure to leave enough space for your marker to set flush or even approximatley 4" from the top. To do this more easily, use a small board to smooth the surface of the wet concrete so that you marker will set flat after it is layed on the concrete. Although you will not lay your marker on the concrete yet at this point it is important that it dry level, so make sure to use a level to insure that it is truly level. Finally, allow 1-2 days for the concrete to dry and then you are ready to intall the marker. When setting your marker in place, it is highly recommended that your marker be flush with the surface of the ground so that the cemetery's mowers will not damage the edges of your stone while mowing the grass on and around your memorial.

If you have any questions or concerns about the process of setting your marker or about how to obtain your cemetery's regulations regarding the setting of monuments just contact us and we will assist you in any way we can.



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