How to Lay Out Cemetery Spaces

Some cementaries have restrictions on casket widths.
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A cemetery needs to be laid out with both the deceased and space constraints in mind. Many cemeteries, especially historical ones, are running out of space for new burials. According to Marc Santora of "The New York Times," Trinity Church Cemetery in New York only has space left for people with long-held reservations or for "extraordinary circumstances." Even in places where there is more available land, many considerations must be taken to lay out cemetery plots because of regulations or if the land is an awkward shape.

Survey the cemetery's land. This is usually done by a professional surveyor to accurately map the space. Using tools, such as a leveling instrument, ensure exact measurements of the land are made.

Draw out a map using the surveyed measurements. The entire lot is sketched out, including older burial plots, distinguishing natural landmarks and roads.

Add a preliminary grid over the map of with the specific size of each plot. Most cemeteries use uniform sizes for single and double plots. Some areas have regulations on the size of each plot, and some cities have space issues. For example, at Washington Cemetery in Brooklyn, each remaining plot is 30 inches wide, 7 feet long and 6 feet deep. However, in the state of New York, there are no mandatory plot sizes. In Florida, plots after 2005 must be 42-by-96-inches with 12 inches of soil over the burial container, unless the cemetery is a religious institution built prior to 1976 and five acres or smaller.

Draw in areas for above-ground burials, such as mausoleums, that may vary in size. Double-check with the surveyed land measurements to make sure each plot is accurately laid out.

Create a final map with all accurate burial sites. Mark with ones are reserved and which are available.

Charong Chow has been writing professionally since 1995. Her work has appeared in magazines such as "Zing" and "Ocean Drive." Chow graduated from the University of Miami with a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy. She also received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the California Institute of the Arts.