Tree Burial Pods: A Comprehensive Guide

Even with death, people can still have a negative impact on the environment - if you’re buried you could be using up wood and metal resources (with a casket and vault) and be filled with embalming fluid that can eventually leak into the ground. Every year in the U.S., cemeteries bury approximately 100,000 tons of steel, 30 million board feet of hardwoods, and 1.6 million tons of concrete, along with over 5.3 million gallons of formaldehyde (a major ingredient in embalming fluid). And, if you’re cremated, the cremation could be performed at a facility that emits a ton of emissions into the air. Good news that with modern crematories and exhaust filtration, the cremation process emits very little into the atmosphere (even less than a typical morning commute!). And, many people today are choosing cremation – over 60%, up from just 25% in 1999! This is being driven by many things including a much lower cost of cremation (vs. burial), families who are much less traditional than in the past, and new and interesting memorial ideas and options such as tree burial pods.

What are tree burial pods?

tree burial pod

A tree burial pod is a bio urn and planting system that gives you the ability to grow a tree from the urn or pod holding your loved one’s cremated remains. The most popular tree burial pod is from the US based company, Biolife, and is called The Living Urn®. This is a patented and proven system that comes with the following:

  • BioUrn®: holds the ashes of a loved one along with soil additive and tree roots – this is sturdy above grounds and biodegrades quickly once planted so it doesn’t impede root growth
  • RootProtect®: special all natural soil additive to help make the environment with cremated remains suitable for tree or plant growth
  • Mulch: a starter bag of wood chips comes with every system to place around the tree once planted to help it retain moisture (to learn more about the importance of mulch, click here)
  • Bamboo Case: an eco-friendly sturdy casing that serves as a great way to store the urn while waiting to plant – it also protects the urn during transport and is a great centerpiece in ceremonies (and engraves well!)
  • Young Tree: over 50 options are available that are narrowed down by zip code to the ones that grow best in your area – these are 2-4’ in size with robust root systems and are shipped to your doorstep on a date of your choosing, ready to plant with the BioUrn®

How much does a tree burial pod cost?

tree burial pod cost

The cost of a tree burial pod depends on where you purchase it and what tree you choose to include (and also where you purchase the tree). This ranges from $129 to over $400. Thousands of funeral homes throughout the country offer Living Urn tree burial pods and these can also be purchased online.  Also, while many people will have the burial pod and young tree provided by The Living Urn, others will simply order the tree burial pod system only and pick up a young tree to plant with it from a local nursery.

Are burial pods legal in the U.S.?

burial pod planting

Yes, they can be planted in most areas throughout the U.S., but it’s always recommended to check with your local city or county offices to find out if there are any rules or other restrictions in place related to burying cremated remains in your specific area. Also, if you want to plant on property that you don’t own, be sure to get written permission from the property owner first (whether it’s a private owner or the government).

Where can a tree burial pod be planted?

burial pod planting

We’ve heard that many families choose to plant a tree burial pod in the yard or on other property they own, while others prefer to plant at a favorite park or even a local golf course (of course, with permission). Another popular option is planting at a Memory Forest – these are cemeteries, memorial parks, and green burial sites throughout the country where a tree burial pod can be planted and the tree cared for.

What types of trees can be planted with burial pods?

burial pod tree options

Almost any tree can be planted with a burial pod, including maples, oaks, willows, evergreens, dogwoods, crape myrtles, and cherry trees, among many other options. The Living Urn offers over 50 of the most popular and hardy trees, which are narrowed down by zip code to the ones that grow best in each area of the U.S. Alternatively, many people purchase The Living Urn system only and pick up a tree or shrub from a local nursery, then follow the step-by-step instructions provided to plant with the burial pod.

Can a rose bush be planted with a burial pod?

burial pod roses

Yes, and this is quite common!  Many people will order The Living Urn burial pod system only then visit their local nursery or garden center to pick up a rose bush in a color of their choice. Then, they simply follow the step-by-step instructions provided to plant and grow a beautiful flowering memorial!

Are there indoor burial pods?

Yes, and there a number of great options that were recently introduced. This includes The Living Urn Indoors, that starts at $159 and gives you the ability to grow a bonsai tree or houseplant indoors from the porcelain urn holding your loved one’s cremated remains. This comes in three colors (white, honey butter, and celadon blue) and is offered with a selection of bonsai trees and houseplants (or you can pick up your own plant at your local nursery to plant with the urn). Another option is The PlantUrn, which is an attractive indoor cremation urn made from recycled hardwoods with the top and bottom held together by embedded magnets and includes a cotton bag to hold your loved one’s cremated remains – plant a succulent or small plant on top and enjoy the beauty of this special memorial!