What is Green Burial?

Return to a simpler, more natural tradition.

Prior to contemporary, conventional cemeteries where graves are organized in carefully measured rows and marked by polished stone or cement headstones, there were natural burial grounds. There was no such thing as chemical embalming, varnished caskets with fancy linings, or concrete vaults. Natural or ‘green burial’ is a return to those traditions that provide a simple, less wasteful, non-toxic means of dedicating one’s physical form back to the earth to rejoin the soil with dignity and with minimal environmental impact.
Orange poppy flowers in a sunny meadow

Benefits of natural burial

Natural burial pays special attention to returning the body back to the earth in a safe way that is simple and natural, allows for greater family interaction, and is a fraction of the cost of conventional burial. In current times, green burial is also rooted in the spirit of social and environmental change– and Serenity Ridge is committed to being part of that change.


Natural burial aids in the conservation of natural resources, reduction of carbon emissions, protection of worker health, and the restoration and/or preservation of habitats.


The loss of a loved one is one of the most difficult times in life, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. You can still honor your loved one without the overwhelming details and costs.


Put your loved one to rest at a fraction of the cost of conventional burial.


An alternative to the current standard form of burial that is friendly to all aspects of a person’s life and to their memory.

What exactly does natural burial look like?

Hover over different parts of the diagram below to explore how natural burial works.

Standard Burial

Standard burials use formaldehyde embalming and long-lasting caskets.

Natural Burial

The natural, or green, burial method starts with the body preparation, which uses no embalming fluid or a non-formaldehyde-based formula.

Green Burial Basics

Reduce the carbon footprint and contribute to the natural eco-cycle
Allow only biodegradable caskets, shrouds or urns, and avoid the use of toxic chemicals or metal
Create cultural and spiritual opportunities, building community
Occupy lands with intrinsic ecological quality and meaningful social value
Do not allow embalming fluids, vaults, concrete, grave liners, herbicides or pesticides
Protect and restore wildlife habitat
Family-centered: family and friends are invited to participate in the burial process
Allow nutrients in the body to actually benefit what is planted above. Graves are dug about 3.5 feet instead of 5 feet to allow oxygen to help with a more natural decomposition. This remains well below 18 inches, the wildlife smell zone
Mark locations by GPS, native memorials such as fieldstone which are laid flat on the ground
Integrate sustainable native plant communities

Burial Ground Maintenance

Ongoing maintenance ensures that the burial ground continually serves as a revered place for the disposition of human remains and provides an opportunity for quiet reflection and remembrance.  It also ensures that over time, the ecological values of the land are both protected and restored. Active control of invasive tree and plant species is implemented using mechanical means or natural non-chemical herbicides as necessary to ensure that these species do not have an opportunity to spread and crowd out native plants.
To restore the natural ecology of the park, a variety of native Maryland trees, shrubs plants and flowers will be incorporated to enhance biodiversity, provide multi-season forage, and shelter for wildlife, and provide year-round visitor interest. Boxes to attract various bird species will be set up to enhance the nature preserve. Additionally, we will be using “green” battery powered equipment for most of the processes needed on a day-to-day basis.
Fallen leaves on forest floor

Think green burial may be the right fit?

Why not as part of your last act, enhance the environment, rather than impact it!
Green Burial Council logo

We are certified by the Green Burial Council

We are certified by the Green Burial Council, the national certifying body for green burial standards for natural cemeteries in the United States. By these standards, a natural burial ground requires the adoption of practices/protocols that are energy-conserving, minimize waste, and do not allow the use of toxic chemicals. Everything used for burial is renewable.

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.

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