What is a natural burial?

natural burial ground meadow with white yellow and purple flowers in long grass

A natural burial is when someone who dies is buried in a green space like a wildflower meadow or woodland. No chemicals are used for embalming. And no coffins that won’t easily biodegrade either. The idea is that the body will return back to the earth in the most natural way possible and in the most eco-friendly way too.

What is a natural burial ground?

A natural burial ground is a green space such as a private park, woodland or meadow where people can be buried without a permanent grave marker. The site owners will look after the grounds making sure that native plants and wildlife can live undisturbed. It’s usually owned privately or by a trust and you won’t see any headstones like traditional cemeteries or graveyards.

Some natural burial sites may have a small hall or building where funeral ceremonies can take place. But others may just offer graveside services to keep the grounds as natural as they can.

Is natural burial legal?

Yes. It’s legal as long as the owner of the burial site follows the rules set out by the government and the code of conduct set out by the Natural Death Centre.

What can you expect from a natural burial site?

Some sites have strict rules about memorials and planting trees. Here’s what you can expect. Hopefully it’ll help you figure out if it’s the right option for you.

No permanent grave markers

To make sure the natural habitats of wildlife on the grounds aren’t disturbed there are usually no permanent grave markers allowed. That could mean no plaques or benches at all. Or it could mean small wooden plaques are allowed if they’ll break down over a short space of time and don’t interfere with other habitats.

Check this with the owner when you get in touch to see what is and isn’t allowed. You may be comfortable with no grave marker at all especially if you’d like a natural burial to reduce your impact on the environment. Talking this through with family members may help too. Some may find it difficult not to see a grave marker when remembering a loved one who’s passed away.

A biodegradable coffin or shroud

The aim of a natural burial is to have as little impact on the environment as possible. Traditional burials with a coffin or casket tend to use chemicals and other materials that get into the soil and air. This could interfere with plants and other wildlife. So most natural burials sites ask for a biodegradable coffin or shroud to be used instead. Biodegradable coffins can be made from willow, seagrass, bamboo or cardboard.

Rules for planting and flowers

Every site will have its own rules about whether planting trees is allowed or not. Some allow it and some only allow a certain type of plant that’s native to the area. This can be the same for flower arrangements. Or you might find that the owner of the site can recommend a florist who will make sure any flower arrangements are made entirely with biodegradable materials.

Can you be cremated for natural burial?

The aim of natural burial is to reduce the impact burials have on the environment. Cremation uses fuel and causes air pollution. So it may not be the best option if you’d like a natural burial because you’re worried about the environment.

That’s not to say that you can’t be cremated and then have your ashes buried or scattered in a more natural setting. There are many organisations that will help you and your family plan this. And some natural burial sites offer this option too.

How much does a natural burial cost?

As most natural burial sites are privately owned they’ll all have their own price lists. So the cost may change from site to site. Here’s an estimated breakdown of costs* to give you an idea of what you can expect to pay for a natural burial.

Service Cost Things to consider
Burial plot (for coffin) £700-£1,400

 

This is for a standard plot. You may find that double plots or children’s plots cost more or less than this.
Burial plot (for ashes) £195-695 This is for one pot. Some sites will reserve an ashes plot for 2 or more pots of ashes to be buried.
Interment fees (for coffin) £450-£695 Extra fees could be charged for coffins that are larger than average.
Interment fees (for ashes) £200-£265
Grave digging fee (for coffin) £645 Extra fees could be charged depending on which burial site you choose. This is because many natural burial grounds don’t use machinery to dig graves. They dig by hand instead. So a wildflower meadow for example may be more difficult to prepare than a field.
Grave digging fee (for ashes) £425 Some grave digging fees will be part of the overall cost of the natural burial plot so check this with the owner.
Memorial (if allowed) Price varies a lot depending on the type of memorial. Some natural burial site owners will allow memorials made from wood or slate. Or they may allow a memory tree to be planted. Check what’s allowed when you get in touch.

 

Keep in mind that these costs don’t include the funeral service or the funeral director’s fees if you use one to help you coordinate the service and burial. You can learn more about funeral costs here.

Is a natural burial right for you?

Now you know more about natural burials you may find it’s the right option for you and your funeral plans. But here are just a few more things to consider before you make up your mind:

  • Your nearest natural burial site may not be just around the corner. Would your family be okay with travelling a bit further to visit?
  • Tell your family and friends that you’re thinking about a natural burial. How do they feel about it? Would they be happy if you didn’t have a permanent grave marker?
  • Do you feel comfortable with the idea of not having a traditional coffin? Explore all your options when you contact a natural burial site to find what’s suitable for you.

For more info on natural burials and choosing a natural burial site visit the Natural Death Centre.

*Estimated breakdown of costs taken from the following sources:

Photo by Kristine Cinate on Unsplash

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The price quoted contains the Funeral Director fees for a simple funeral. This includes:

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In addition to the disbursements you may want to discuss optional costs with your Funeral Director - these could include:

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What is a Direct Cremation?

A Direct Cremation is an alternative to the traditional funeral. This involves the cremation of the deceased without a funeral service. A Direct Cremation is generally the most economic option because costs of the coffin, preparation of the body, funeral service and expensive transportation are not included. However, many people choose Direct Cremations for reasons other than expense, for example:

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The prices quoted for Direct Cremations include:

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This is Funeral Choice’s best estimate of this Funeral Director’s fees for an Attended Funeral, which is where family and friends have a ceremony or service for the deceased person at the same time as they attend their burial or cremation.

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This is Funeral Choice’s best estimate of this Funeral Director’s fees and the crematorium fee for an Unattended Funeral, which is where family and friends may choose to have a ceremony, event or service for the deceased person, but they do not attend the burial or cremation itself. This is also known as a Direct Cremation.

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In addition to this fee, there might be additional third party costs to consider (sometimes called disbursements). Your chosen Funeral Director will be able to explain these for you.

If you wish to attend the funeral, you should view the “Attended Funeral” price instead.

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Why is this price Estimated?

We work hard to ensure the Funeral Director Fees we display are accurate and up to date. However, unlike with our partners, we cannot guarantee this price is correct today.

Funeral Director fees

The price quoted contains the Funeral Director fees for a simple funeral. This includes:

  • Funeral Director fees for meetings, paperwork and running the funeral
  • Collection of the deceased and care prior to funeral
  • Hearse or appropriate vehicle for transport to the funeral
  • Basic coffin

The Funeral Director fees quoted do not include third party costs (often called disbursements). The Funeral Director will guide you through your options. These costs are:

  • Cremation or burial fees
  • Medical certificate for cremation
  • Clergy or officiant fee for conducting the ceremony

In addition to the disbursements you may want to discuss optional costs with your Funeral Director - these could include:

  • Funeral flowers
  • Memorial (venue hire, catering etc)
  • Memorial headstone
  • Orders of service
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