Tree Burials Honoring Loved Ones Grow in Popularity

The amount of people choosing cremation over burial is growing throughout the U.S. and worldwide. Today more than half of all Americans who pass choose to be cremated and, according to the National Funeral Director’s Association (NFDA), cremation is expected to grow to nearly 80% of all people who pass by 2040 (up from just 25% in 1999). The primary reasons for this shift include the cost of cremation and that many families are less traditional than they once were.

With cremation on the rise, more and more memorial options are becoming available that give families the ability to create a memorial for a loved one that is both, personal and meaningful. This includes a burial at sea with a unique water urn, scattering a loved one’s ashes with a biodegradable eco-friendly scattering urn, or including a portion of a loved one’s ashes in a decorative glass piece or indoor planter urn. In addition to these great options, a memorial that is becoming very popular among families throughout the U.S. is to have a tree burial with The Living Urn’s patented bio urn and planting system.

What is a Tree Burial?

tree burial

A tree burial is where a person’s ashes are placed in a Living Urn bio urn and planting system and grow into a beautiful tree of choice – a true ‘living memorial’. 

A tree burial is for people who choose cremation and is becoming a popular choice for families throughout the U.S. and worldwide. With a tree burial, a beautiful tree memorial of the person who passed can be looked after and cherished by family and friends for many years to come!

The Living Urn was developed about five years ago and has been part of tens of thousands of tree burials worldwide. This patented bio urn and planting system comes with everything a family needs to perform a tree burial with a loved one’s ashes. Each Living Urn includes a unique all-natural bio urn made from recycled plant materials that is rigid above ground and can be stored for years, however, breaks down rapidly once planted and exposed to soil and moisture. This allows the roots of a tree to grow freely and unimpeded – critical for the long-term survival and health of the tree. In addition, each Living Urn system comes standard with a proprietary soil additive called RootProtect® - this additive is all natural and counters certain properties of ash to help make the soil and growing environment suitable for a newly planted tree. The Living Urn also includes a starter pack of aged wood chips (mulch) to serve as a reminder to provide plenty of much for the newly planted tree. In addition, it comes with a detailed instruction book describing planting and care of the memorial along with an optional one to four foot young, healthy tree of choice. This tree is shipped directly from The Living Urn’s nursery to your home ready to plant with The Living Urn (alternatively, you can pick up a tree or plant at a local nursery and follow the instructions provided to plant with The Living Urn). The entire system is packaged in a beautiful eco-friendly cylinder case made from bamboo, an eco-friendly and sustainable resource. This case is etched with a tree and is a perfect complement to any ceremony.

Considerations for a Tree Burial

There are a number of things to consider when you’re planning to have a tree burial, including:

Type of Tree

There are many trees available and The Living Urn makes it easy on families by providing a selection of over fifty tree options. The trees are narrowed down by zip code to show the ones that grow best in each area of the U.S. and can be accessed on The Living Urn’s website. Alternatively, families can order The Living Urn without a tree and visit their local nursery to pick up a tree, plant, or rose bush and follow the instructions provided to plant with The Living Urn and their loved one’s ashes.

Location of the Tree Planting

In addition to getting a tree that can grow and thrive in your area, another thing to consider is the specific location where the tree will be planted. This can include the amount of sun and shade that area receives and if it matches with the type of tree you prefer. In addition, it is important to see if the size of the tree you prefer (at maturity) will fit with the space you have to plant – The Living Urn offers both, large and small trees for all areas of the U.S.

So, where do you plant? Many families will plant on their property, or have another location in mind that has special meaning to the family or person who passed. Other families will plant their loved one’s tree memorial in a park, on church property, at a golf course, in a cemetery, at a memorial garden, or in one of virtually endless other places (of course, getting permission when needed). Each city or county may have their own rules in relation to planting and it is always recommended to do an internet search for your area or check with your local government offices.

Another option for planting is to have the tree memorial in a Memory Forest. This concept of a Memory Forest was started by The Living Urn and includes over thirty beautiful locations nationwide where a Living Urn tree memorial can be planted and cared for. Most of these are at existing cemeteries or memorial parks who have partnered with The Living Urn, while some are private land owners who love the idea of providing a special place for families to memorialize a loved one.

Deciding on a Date

There are a few things to consider when deciding on a date for a tree burial. This includes the time it takes to get your loved one’s ashes back from the funeral home or crematorium (which can take a few days up to a few weeks). In addition, if you are inviting family and friends to the planting consider the amount of notice you need to give and if it's important to be at a time when a majority or all of them can attend.

Another thing to consider is the time of year and weather. In most places of the U.S., the best time to plant is in the Fall or Spring – the good news is that the weather is also typically favorable during these seasons for an outdoor planting ceremony. There are also exceptions to this as in some Western and Southern states, the ground doesn’t freeze and trees can generally be planted year-round.

If your loved one recently passed and you want to (or need to) wait to plant, The Living Urn offers three options that cater to your situation:

The Living Urn with a Tree of Choice: With this, you can receive The Living Urn now and select the date when you want the tree shipped.

The Living Urn with a Voucher for a Tree: You can receive The Living Urn now, but decide on the tree and planting date in the future.

The Living Urn System Only: You receive The Living Urn now and, when the time comes to plant, you can visit your local nursery to pick out a tree, plant or rose bush and follow the instructions provided to plant with The Living Urn.

Preparing for the Planting

Many families include the actual planting of the memorial tree during the ceremony or celebration of life. With this, it is important to take the following into consideration:

  • Preparing the Planting Site

Pull any weeds or grass that may exist where the tree is to be planted and dig a hole per the instructions provided. It is a good idea to have a rake or shovel or two for this step. Some families will have the site prepared before a ceremony, while others will include this step in a ceremony.

  • Preparing The Living Urn 

Many funeral homes or cremation service providers will fill the bio urn with the ashes. However, in other cases, the funeral provider either did not do this step, or the urn was purchased after the cremation. Transferring the ashes into the bio urn is easy to do - simply slowly place as little or as much of the ashes in the bottom of the urn. The Living Urn can be used with ashes of any age - it doesn’t matter if the cremation was just performed or done many years ago.

  • Preparing the Tree

Carefully remove the tree from its packaging prior to the ceremony and stand up-right. 

Planting The Living Urn

Planting of The Living Urn with a loved one’s ashes is easy and straightforward and the instructions that come with the system walk you through each step. Many people decide to have family members and friends involved in the tree planting. By being involved and participating in the planting (even by just adding a scoop of soil around the tree or mulch around its base), many people feel more connected to the memorial.

Ceremony or Celebration

Once the tree planting has been performed, many families choose to continue the ceremony or celebration of life. This can include having a religious person speak and/or friends and family speak about the loved one who passed, holding a moment of silence, providing food and beverages, and playing music, among other things. Some planting ceremonies are more formal with a set schedule of events (including speakers, etc.), while others are more informal. There are a lot of unique things you can do to make the ceremony more memorable and personal - make it your own and honor your loved one in a way that has special meaning for you and your family.