As you grieve your loved one’s passing, you may think about how to best keep their memory alive. Some people do this by funding a scholarship in their loved one’s name. Or you may request that others make a contribution to a charity instead of purchasing flowers for the funeral.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Memorial Garden Ideas for Mom or Dad
- Memorial Garden Ideas for a Son or Daughter
- Memorial Garden Ideas for a Partner or Spouse
But perhaps you would like to do something different to honor the important person in your life. Maybe you would rather create a living memorial for the person you lost. Some living memorials may include naming a star after a loved one or adopting a pet. Some people view tattoos as living memorials. Another unique way to honor the person you lost is to design and create a memorial garden.
Here are some concepts for memorial gardens. We will give you some ideas on things to include that will help people remember that the garden was created in memory of a particular person.
If you're interested in other unique ways to honor a loved one, you can consider a custom urn from a store like Foreverence or even have a memorial diamond made from ashes with a company like Eterneva.
Tip: If you are the executor for a deceased loved one, it isn't just memorializing them that can sometimes cause stress. Handling their unfinished business can be overwhelming without a way to organize your process. We have a post-loss checklist that will help you ensure that your loved one's family, estate, and other affairs are taken care of.
Memorial Garden Ideas for Mom or Dad
Creating a memorial garden is a beautiful way to celebrate the life of your parents. The garden would be even more special if members of multiple generations helped design, create, and maintain it. Here are some thoughts about what you may want to include.
One way to make a traditional garden into a memorial garden is to add a few pieces of well-designed statuary throughout the space. The sculptures can depict religious symbols, such as angels, praying hands, or other figures.
But the statues can also be used to reminisce about your family members too. For example, even if you can’t hire a sculptor to create a statue of your parents, you may be able to find pre-made sculptures that show two older adults holding hands.
2. Your mom’s or dad’s favorite plant or flower
It is relatively common for a person to be known by his or her signature flower. This can be based on personal preference or an uncanny ability to be able to grow the plant in less-than-desirable conditions.
Perhaps your mom was known for her purple irises, or your dad was known for the enormous blooms he could coax from a rose bush. To make the garden even more special, use some of the plants from your parent’s garden in their memorial garden as well.
3. Choose plants based on the scent
Did your mom love the smell of lavender? Maybe she sprayed it on her sheets or used the scent in her bath. Why not plant lavender in the garden to celebrate the life of your mom?
Perhaps your dad enjoyed the smell of lemon balm. Every time you walk past the plant, you can quickly scratch a leaf to experience a scent that you know that your dad loved.
Scents can hold lots of memories. One whiff of the lavender in the garden may transport you back in time to memories of your childhood when your sweet-smelling mother placed her cool hand on your cheek.
4. River rocks
Did your parents leave a substantial legacy? Did they have a lot of children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren? As you design a memorial garden in your parents’ honor, ask each member of the family to paint his or her name on a river rock using bright-colored paint. Use the stones in a single display or scattered throughout the garden.
You could also have the members of your family write a favorite memory of the loved one on one of the rocks. Provide permanent markers for such detailed work.
The rocks will not only be beautiful, but they will be a reminder of the lasting legacy that your parents started when they united decades ago.
5. Bird feeders
Did your parents enjoy looking at birds, especially in their later years? Continue their work of feeding the birds by placing feeders in the memorial garden. Learn about what birds live in the vicinity of the garden so you can buy appropriate food to attract the native species.
Of course, you may want to find feeders that are squirrel-proof if you only want to provide dinner for your feathered friends.
Memorial Garden Ideas for a Son or Daughter
Those who have lost a son or daughter describe it as being an incredibly painful experience. It feels like it goes against the natural order of life, and the grief may be hard to manage.
If you lost a son or daughter, you may find it therapeutic to immerse yourself in the work of creating a beautiful garden. Here are some things you may consider placing in the space.
One does not need to be a student of Victorian life to understand that flowers have meanings. You also do not need to be a linguist to guess that forget-me-nots were named so to encourage people to think about those who are no longer living.
Forget-me-nots are rather easy to grow, but also require a certain amount of humidity. The cheery blue (and sometimes pink) blooms will enhance the beauty of any garden, and the blossoms usually last for months.
7. Stepping stone
Do you have a stepping stone that depicts the handprint or footprint of the child you lost?
This would be a beautiful item to place in a memorial garden. If a handprint or footprint is not available, you can also create a stepping stone that is personalized with your child’s name. People tend to use such items more for decoration instead of utility.
8. Meaningful toys
A quick look at Pinterest shows many parents using toys in their child’s memory garden.
Toy dump trucks can be used as succulent planters. Children’s chairs can be altered to hold a potted plant. If you are ok with your child’s toys being exposed to the elements, this would be an excellent way to honor your son’s or daughter’s life.
9. Weeping trees
Who doesn’t remember playing under a weeping willow as a child? There are many varieties of “weeping” trees.
Although the word describes the shape of the branches, the name of the tree may make it a perfect addition to any memorial garden.
10. Bubble machines
If you want to create a space for children to enjoy, you may consider adding a few bubble machines or stations throughout the garden.
Although the bubble machines will not be able to run continuously, they could be used when other children visit.
Memorial Garden Ideas for a Partner or Spouse
Have you recently lost your spouse? Creating a garden is a beautiful way to remember a family member or partner. Here are some ideas of things to include.
11. Flowers planted from memorial service seeds
In an attempt to make a living tribute, some family members pass out seed packets at their loved one’s funeral.
If the deceased was known for his gardening skills, this would be a perfect way to honor his life. Use the seeds or other funeral flower keepsakes to plant in the memorial garden.
12. Vegetable garden
What better way to honor the memory of your loved one than grow food to share with those in need? If you have space, time, sunshine, and skill, create a vegetable and herb garden.
Donate the food to local food pantries. You may even want to package the food in paper bags designed with the name and image of the honoree.
13. Butterfly garden
Butterflies are gentle reminders of those who have gone before us. If butterflies remind you of the person you lost, research how you can create a certified butterfly garden in their memory.
Besides plants that attract butterflies, you also need a water source. Look for more information on creating a butterfly garden from the agriculture extension office in your area.
Do you need a quiet spot where you can go to pray and reflect on the life of the one you lost? Make sure you include a bench in your memorial garden.
Find a shaded spot for a comfortable seat if you intend to use it. Some choose to engrave benches with the names of their loved ones.
Is there anything more pleasant than hearing the soft tinkling of wind chimes? Wind chimes are beautiful, and their tones may also bring back memories of past times.
Consider the feelings of your neighbors if you put up wind chimes close to your property line.
16. Decorative flags
Consider scattering decorative flags throughout the memorial garden for your loved one.
You may be able to find a flag that lists a meaningful verse or quote, or you may want to choose banners that have images that remind you of your spouse.
The Best Memorial Garden for You
One can create a backyard memorial garden without the help of a professional. It may take a lot of hard work and some money, but in no time you could have a living tribute to someone you love.
You may also consider creating a garden on the property of a religious institution or school. While you will need permission, creating a garden in these environments would be a great idea, especially if your loved one had a personal relationship with people in those places.
Of course, there are many more things to consider if you would like to create a memorial garden for public use. Funding for its care will have to be considered, and of course, you will need permission from the city or county.
Regardless of the size of your garden, it would make a great eco-friendly tribute to a person you lost. Make sure you include a sign that lists the name, birth dates, and death dates of the person you love, so it is clear who the garden is honoring.