Frequently Asked Questions

Where is Serenity Ridge Natural Burial Cemetery and Arboretum located?

Serenity Ridge is the only natural burial cemetery in the state of Maryland. It is located in a country setting at 2406 Ridge Road, Windsor Mill, Maryland. You can find directions to Serenity Ridge listed under our “Tours/Events” and “Contact” Pages.

Where are your trails located?

There are two entrances to our trail network; one entrance can be found behind the parking lot and the other beyond Inspiration Point. There are signs along the roadways indicating where the trails are located. See maps below for reference.

What is a natural burial cemetery?

A natural burial cemetery bears little resemblance to a conventional cemetery. There are no manicured lawns, rows of headstones or pesticides sprayed throughout the property. Trails meander through fields and forests, with invasive species replaced by native trees, shrubs and flowers. Native wildlife is encouraged to flourish all around the cemetery. Serenity Ridge is a cemetery within a nature preserve, that itself is surrounded by a nature preserve.

What types of burials are permitted at Serenity Ridge?

Only natural burials (also referred to as “green burials”) are permitted. This is how most people were buried until the Civil War when embalming first came into use. In a natural burial a person is laid to rest in a biodegradable container such as a wooden casket, shroud, or some other biodegradable container. The contained body is placed directly in the ground as there is no burial vault permitted. Typically, there is no embalming with environmentally toxic materials. If the body is embalmed, only newer. approved nontoxic fluids (approved by either the Green Burial Council or our office) are permitted.

Visit our Protocals page for more information.

What types of grave markers are permitted?

Grave markers are permitted but optional. Like most other green cemeteries we limit grave markers to being made from local, natural materials—like wood or stone, and they must be placed flat to the ground. For single lots, the exposed surface area of the flush marker must not exceed 300 square inches and no linear dimension should exceed 25 inches. (Larger markers are available for multiple graves in large family estates.) These headstones will be supplied as part of the interment fee from Serenity Ridge.

Cremated remains buried in designated areas in the burial ground will be located in “cremation garden groupings”. There typically will not be an individualized memorial marker but rather a Cenotaph which will have the individual names listed. An approved small headstone could be placed by the family if approved by Serenity Ridge

Visit our Rules & Regulations page for more information.

Can families plant a tree or flower on my grave?

In order to contribute to our detailed forest restoration plan, we want to be sure only specific species of native plants are introduced on the site. Plantings in memory of the deceased will be available for purchase. Records of memorial plants—by whom, for whom, and when given—will be maintained by the cemetery and available on a memorial wall and on our software.

All plantings will be native to Maryland. Placement will be according to the approved cemetery’s landscape plan which is designed to enhance the natural environment and habitat and to further the purpose of the long term restoration of the land.

Additionally, memorial boulders, benches and other hardscape items can be purchased based on the overall Master Plan.

Visit our Rules & Regulations page for more information.

How deep are Serenity Ridge graves?

All graves will be at a depth of 3.5 feet. This allows for aerobic decomposition which is more efficient than burying deeper. Any concerns that animals could dig up the grave are not supported in fact as an animal smell zone is no deeper than 18 inches.

Visit our Green Burial page for more information.

How can families locate gravesites at Serenity Ridge?

Serenity Ridge will keep careful records of precise burial locations. These records are kept on paper and by 2024, will be kept electronically. Interment sites are located precisely by measurements from survey pins. In addition, beginning in 2024, families can locate graves online with a GPS system featured on our website.

What types of lots are available for sale at Serenity Ridge?

Serenity Ridge offers two kinds of lots for sale. Select is where a specific grave-site is selected in an area open for sale at the time of death. Sequential is when a family prearranges a grave-site with payment however, the site is not selected until there is a death. At that time the client family is given a choice of what is available. Alternatively, Serenity Ridge could select the grave site and an adjoining lot could be selected to set up a family area.

What does my ownership of a lot at Serenity Ridge entail?

Ownership of interment rights at Serenity Ridge allows an individual and their family the exclusive right of interment and the ability to memorialize that individual interred in the specific sites.

Is the space mine into perpetuity?

In many parts of the world, graves are reused after a time. Some states are moving toward leasing the grave for a number of years followed by reversion to the cemetery. In Maryland, current law allows for a certificate of ownership. Essentially, the family “owns” the right of burial and the right to place a memorial, all other rights and responsibilities remain with the cemetery.

Do I need a funeral director from Maryland if I am transporting a deceased into Maryland from an outside state?

According to the State of Maryland, Cemetery Oversight Committee: All states issue a burial transit permit to allow the transport of human remains across state lines. Unless a funeral Director has a courtesy license for the state of Maryland, an outside funeral home must be engaged to oversee the burial in Maryland.

May we hold funeral or memorial services at Serenity Ridge?

It is the intent of Serenity Ridge to work closely with local and regional funeral directors. Our plan is to have a non-denominational chapel for those who wish to have a service on the premises. This will be large enough to hold about 30-40 people. Graveside services may be held with family, friends and religious leaders without problem.

May we prepare the site or even dig the grave?

We welcome the family participating in bringing the casket to the grave, lowering it, or filling in the grave. Taking an active part in the burial process can be an integral part of the grieving process. As far as digging the grave, the trained employees of Serenity Ridge will complete that portion, as well as protect the edges of the grave.

Can people bury or scatter cremated remains?

Serenity Ridge accepts cremation remains that should be in a biodegradable urn. We offer 2’ x 2’ cremation only lots, we do not perform scattering of ashes. We have a number of areas where cremains can be buried. Higher priced lots are available at Inspiration Point.

Still have questions?

If you can’t find what you’re looking for, contact us with any additional questions. We are happy to answer all questions about Serenity Ridge and natural burial.
Contact Us

Get in touch

2406 Ridge Road
Windsor Mill, MD 21244

For any questions you may have, please feel free to contact us and someone will get back to you.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Sign up to receive updates about Serenity Ridge in your inbox.

Newsletter Subscribe