How Do I Hold a Tree Burial Planting Ceremony?

With traditional burials becoming less common and with cremation on the rise (mainly due to the lower cost of cremation and that families are now less traditional than before), many families are looking for uplifting alternatives and special ceremonies where they can honor their loved ones in truly unique ways. One option for families that's growing in popularity across the U.S. is a tree planting ceremony with The Living Urn tree burial urn. Planting trees in memory of loved ones who’ve passed has been around for ages across many cultures, however, now with The Living Urn, families can take it a step further and incorporate their loved one’s ashes in the planting process. 

What is a Tree Burial Planting Ceremony?

A tree planting ceremony is a time where family and friends can come together and reflect on the loved one who passed and plant new life, a living tree memorial, that will grow and endure in their honor. This ceremony typically involves a loved one’s cremated remains, The Living Urn bio urn and planting system, and a young tree of choice. The Living Urn is a biodegradable urn and bio tree pod system that allows families to grow a beautiful memory tree with the ashes of a loved one. Many people want to give back to ones they leave behind - this special tree gives back to nature and sustains life for future generations. Different trees can have different meanings, symbolizing the character of the loved one lost. This memory tree can provide a special place for family and friends to visit for years to come and keep a loved one memory present.

How Does it Work?

You will first need to order a Living Urn bio urn and planting system and choose a tree well suited for the planting site and geographic region. The Living Urn offers more than 20 beautiful tree and shrub options for most parts of the U.S. Families can also get a tree, plant, or flowers from a local nursery to plant in combination with The Living Urn. Each Living Urn comes with detailed and easy to follow instructions to make it easy for families to plant once the cremated remains are received from the funeral home or cremation service provider.

How to Hold a Planting Ceremony?

A tree burial planting ceremony can be done many different ways and can be as formal or informal as a family wants. Below is a simple outline that can be helpful when planning a tree burial planting ceremony:

Date of the Planting: It is important to first decide on a date that is after you expect to have your loved one’s cremated ashes back from the funeral home or cremation provider. Another thing to take into consideration is when close family and friends you want to invite will be able to attend – be sure to give ample time if they’re traveling from far away.

Location of the Planting: Additional things to consider include the weather and location of the planting. This includes making sure you check the shade/sun requirements of your particular tree or shrub and that the location you choose meets these requirements. Many families will decide to have the planting on property they own, or have another special and meaningful location to plant. The Living Urn’s staff has heard many stories of families who have planted in parks, cemeteries, church properties, golf courses, and many more beautiful locations. Different cities and counties have different rules and regulations that you can look into – a simple internet search or a call to the local government offices is a good way to find out if any exist in your area. In addition, The Living Urn also works with a number of cemeteries and memorial parks nationwide where a tree burial can be done (MemoryForest.org).

Additional Things to Consider: Once the date and location of the tree burial has been determined, additional things to consider are if you would like a religious person present to speak, if family or friends will say a few words, among other considerations (including whether or not food and beverages will be served, whether music will be played..). Many ceremonies turn into a celebration of the person’s life and are a great time for family and friends to honor and reflect.

The Ceremony and Tree Planting: Many planting ceremonies start with family and friends reflecting on memories they shared with their loved one who passed and then move into the planting. The first important step of the planting is to prepare the site (this includes taking out any weeds/grass and also digging the hole) – in this step we recommend having some rakes and a shovel or two. Some families choose to prepare the planting site prior to the ceremony, while others decide to include this step as part of the ceremony and let the family and friends who are present participate.

Another initial step is to prepare The Living Urn. Many families will do this before the ceremony and transfer the ashes into the biodegradable planting urn (or have their funeral director do this). The Living Urn is uniquely designed so it can be used with as much or as little of one set of cremated ashes as desired  and many families will even plant multiple tree memorials with one set of ashes.

The next and final step is the actual planting. The Living Urn provides clear step-by-step instructions on how to do this, making it easy on the family. In general, the proprietary BioUrn® is simply removed from the outer bamboo cylindrical casing. Next, the gold bag of RootProtect® is poured into the bio urn on top of the ashes. The BioUrn® is then placed in the center of the hole, the tree is lowered down into the top of the BioUrn® and topsoil dug from the ground is filled in the open space. Then, cover the topsoil with mulch and give the tree an ample watering.

Many families choose to have friends and family (including children) to be involved with each step of the planting. Even by simply adding a scoop of soil around the BioUrn® or tree, they will feel more involved in the process and connected to the living tree memorial honoring their loved one.

After the bio urn tree memorial is planted, many ceremonies will continue, which can including having family and friends come forward and speaking, a religious person speaking, a moment of silence, and some will serve food and beverages. You and your family know your loved one best and can make the planting ceremony a special event and how you believe your loved one would have wanted it.