Problems you might find in a cemetery restoration project

Cemeteries may be of importance to family members, religious or ethnic groups, or they may even be of nationwide significance, but can they also fall into neglect and disrepair. If you are considering embarking on a cemetery restoration project, here are some of the problems you may find in your chosen cemetery.

Overgrown vegetation

Graves can easily be overgrown by weeds and other unwanted plants that can cover the individual graves and make the paths impassable. Graves can also be disrupted by tree roots that have grown too big. Some vegetation is necessary to give a cemetery character and a sense of history, but any restoration project workers will have to consider which plant growth to remove and how to control it in the future.

Damage to gravestones

There are a number of reasons why a monument or gravestone may break over time. Unfortunately, the main reason will always be vandalism. Anyone undertaking a restoration project will need to evaluate if the vandalism is recent or ongoing and how to protect the site in the future.

There are other forms of damage, though. Some stones will deteriorate over time due to erosion by rainwater or from damp caused by soil building up around the base of stone. Also, some inscriptions can become difficult to read because of a build-up of moss or lichen on the stone. This may be unsightly, but it may also offer some protection to the stone, and removal can do more harm than good. Inscriptions can also be affected by weathering, where vegetation in the wind scrapes against the stone. Over time, this can destroy the lettering.

It should also be noted that a poor-quality repair to a headstone can detract from its appearance and from the appearance of the cemetery overall.


Sometimes headstones and monuments can fall over because of subsidence in the earth. This is often due to "coffin collapse", but can also be caused by burrowing animals, tree roots, compacted or uneven fill beneath the monument or the collapse of an underground vault. Restorers will need to know the exact cause of the collapse before attempting to repair the monument, or the process may continue.

All of these problems can be repaired, or at least prevented, from getting worse. However, it is always wise to obtain professional advice after identifying the problems to ensure that the work is done as effectively as possible.