Lawn Crypt Burials Explained: Cost & How They Work

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Are you preplanning your own funeral or making arrangements for a loved one who recently died? If so, your mind’s probably whirling with all the unfamiliar vocabulary.

Jump ahead to these sections:

You may be confused by the words interment and entombment. And what’s the difference between a crypt and a vault?

What’s a lawn crypt? We’ll discuss what they are, how they work, and their approximate cost. We’ll also help you consider some other factors when you purchase space in one.

What’s a Lawn Crypt? 

A crypt is another word for a vault. Vaults are used to protect the casket (and the body in it) from the elements. A vault keeps the casket both clean and dry. 

Think of a lawn crypt as a top-of-the-line underground vault. It’s made of concrete and steel and is installed underground, then covered with soil and grass. You can think of it as an underground mausoleum

Other crypt choices

As we mentioned, lawn crypts are considered to be the premier choice of burial vaults. It’s worth noting that you will have other burial alternatives as well, which may or may not be appropriate for your needs.

Sectional burial liners

At the low end of the spectrum is the sectional burial liner. These are assembled by hand and are placed around the casket while it is in the ground. They are made of concrete and thin wire and are about 1 ¼ inch thick.

Even though sectional burial liners are not exceptionally sturdy, they are necessary to use at times. Gravediggers sometimes need to maneuver caskets into tight spaces, and it is easier to do with a sectional burial liner rather than a solid liner box or lawn crypt.  

Solid liner boxes

If you are looking for a reliable, medium-range product, you could consider using a solid liner box. Solid liner boxes are a bit thicker than the walls of a sectional burial liner. They come premade as a solid box and are installed quickly with the use of a backhoe. Since they are constructed without seams, they keep the casket dry and clean. 

Solid liner boxes, or burial vaults, vary in quality. Some burial vaults are 2 ½ inches thick and reinforced with heavy-gauge wire. Some also have strips of tar sealed into the grooves. Others come with either a copper or a plastic liner.

The disadvantage of using a solid liner or burial box is that they are heavy. The weight of the box, plus the weight of the backhoe sometimes caves in surrounding graves. They are also challenging to maneuver in tight spaces, which is why sectional burial liners sometimes have to be used.

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How Do Lawn Crypts Work?

This leads us back to our discussion about lawn crypts. Since both the sectional burial liners and solid burial liners have flaws, some cemetery administrators have chosen to install lawn crypts in entire sections of a cemetery. 

Lawn crypts are usually installed with shared, reinforced walls and an elaborate drainage system. Since large sections are installed together, they are more likely to withstand floods and other natural disasters. 

Even though the initial cost of installation is high, lawn crypts are more cost-effective later. They are easy to access, even during the winter. This practice also eliminates sinking and collapsed graves. 

Lawn crypts are usually large installations, which means that many people’s bodies are placed within the walls of the structure.

What’s a companion lawn crypt?

Just as you are able to purchase a companion crypt for you and your loved one in a mausoleum, you may also be able to buy a companion lawn crypt as well. 

Companion lawn crypts come in different varieties. Some vaults are built to hold two caskets placed side by side. Others place caskets end-to-end. Still, other companion lawn crypts place caskets on top of one another. This style has a divider between the coffins.

Usually, companion lawn crypts are less expensive than individual lawn crypts. 

Difference Between Lawn Crypts and Other Above-Ground Burials

We know that “above-ground burials” sounds like an oxymoron, but there are several above-ground burial options from which to choose.

You may be familiar with family-owned mausoleums, which you can see when visiting cemeteries in New Orleans. You can also search for indoor or garden mausoleums near you, which are above-ground structures created to hold the caskets of many individuals.

Lawn crypts are similar to mausoleums because they’re also sturdy structures. Instead of being above the ground, lawn crypts are buried below the surface of the ground. Soil and turf are laid across the top of the structure, so casual observers would have no idea that the lawn crypt was beneath the surface.  

How Much Do Lawn Crypts Usually Cost?

It’s emotional to choose your loved one’s burial location. Some people do not even ask for details regarding the price because they’re overwhelmed by grief and don’t want to discuss money.

That’s why planning ahead of time for a funeral is a good idea. When a person makes his final arrangements well in advance, he or she is more likely to pay attention to cost.

It’s difficult to say how much burial in a lawn crypt costs on average across the country because the price varies a lot, depending upon the location. The price of burial in a lawn crypt can vary from around $1,500 to $6,000. 

Generally, burial in a lawn crypt is more expensive than burial in a sectional burial liner or a solid liner box. Burial in a lawn crypt is less costly than being entombed in a mausoleum.

More importantly, make sure you know about what the cost of burial in a lawn crypt covers. Here are some questions to ask the administrators of the cemetery:

  1. Does the fee include opening and closing the lawn crypt?
  2. Is there a maintenance fee included in the cost of the burial?
  3. Is there an additional cost for obtaining a permit for the burial?
  4. Will any fees be charged when a marker or headstone is installed?
  5. Is there a discounted rate if I purchase a companion lawn crypt instead of a single lawn crypt?

If you are paying or your burial ahead of time, make sure you get in writing what you paid and leave that receipt or contract in a place that’s easy for your loved ones to find. 

Other Considerations

Now, which type should you choose?

Instead of thinking about the type of vault you’d want for your loved one’s casket, choose the cemetery. Here are some things to consider as you pick out a burial location.

  • Where is it located? Is the cemetery located in a convenient location where friends and family members can visit to reflect on the life of the deceased?
  • Is the cemetery adequately maintained? Visit the cemetery. Is it well-manicured? Are the headstones tidy and well-maintained? Is the grass neatly trimmed?
  • Does the cemetery meet your religious needs? If you are Catholic or Jewish, is there a particular section of the cemetery designated for burial? 
  • What are the cemetery rules? Does the cemetery allow mourners to place artificial flowers on the graves? If so, do you agree or disagree with this practice?

Once you’ve picked out a cemetery, you can learn about the specific rules the cemetery has for vaults. You may find that some cemeteries already have lawn vaults and rural or small cemeteries may not require the use of vaults at all.


Sources

  1. Huffman, Paul. “A Word About Burial Liners Written by a Grave Digger.” Funeral Consumers Alliance. 26 November 2007. funerals.org/word-about-burial-liners/
  2. “Lawn Crypt Cost.” Cost Helper Personal Finance. personalfinance.costhelper.com/lawn-crypt.html

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