Keeping Huntsville’s cemeteries beautiful: How to do your part

The City of Huntsville needs the public’s help in keeping the city’s cemeteries in good shape. (Jacob Blankenship/Hville Blast)

Strolling through one of Huntsville’s nine cemeteries is like a hands-on history lesson, as the city has some of the state’s oldest cemeteries with well-maintained grounds and beautiful markers.

However, the City of Huntsville’s Cemetery Department needs the public’s help in keeping these local gems clean and beautiful. And the city recently released some tips for how to make this happen.

How the city maintains its cemeteries

The city maintains each of its nine cemeteries weekly. (Jacob Blankenship/Hville Blast)

The Cemetery Department has a small staff of 13 full-time workers and a varying number of temporary hires who trim and mow more than 100 acres of grass around nearly 100,000 monuments in nine cemeteries.

Each cemetery is maintained every seven days during peak grass season, and when summer gives way to fall, workers transition from mowing and trimming to raking leaves and picking up sticks. 

How you can help

Maple Hill Cemetery is one of the oldest cemeteries in Alabama. (Jacob Blankenship/Hville Blast)

With such a limited staff to maintain the cemeteries, cemetery director Tara Sloan said people need to follow guidelines and make sure they are doing their part in keeping the cemeteries clean.

“We understand the loss of a loved one is a very difficult time for families, and we want to show respect for those who visit as well as the deceased. Please take a moment to consider the impacts on maintenance and the environment before leaving anything at a gravesite.”

Tara Sloan, director, Huntsville Cemetery Department

Here are a few reminders from the city’s cemetery guidelines:

  • Personal items can become weathered, broken and dislodged during a storm, causing litter or debris. Items stuck in the ground create hazards for maintenance workers, as striking them with a mower or weed wacker can result in dangerous projectiles.
  • Prohibited items include shepherd’s hooks, flags, lights, bricks/rocks, standup decorations, fencing/coping, stuffed animals, toys, food/drinks, memorabilia, vases and potted plants. 
  • The department recommends all floral arrangements be secured to the headstone/marker via a “saddle” or attached vase, which is typically part of the monument. 
  • Floral stems loose in a vase will still blow out, so Sloan recommends securing them with floral foam, tape or wire.
  • Anyone who wishes to plant a tree or shrub near or on a graveside must receive approval from the Cemetery Department before doing so.

Only one cemetery still has plots for sale

Only four of the city’s nine cemeteries are active, and Maple Hill is the only one with plots still available. (Jacob Blankenship/Hville Blast)

Of the city’s nine cemeteries, only four are active — Brandontown, Glenwood, Maple Hill and Northside — and of those, only Maple Hill still has plots available.

Sloan said less than 300 full-size lots at Maple Hill are still available in Block 41, though there are some spaces for cremains in Block 47. All available spaces are restricted to flat markers only.

Click here to learn more about cemetery guidelines or submit a maintenance request.

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Michael Seale
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