Cremated ashes in the garden

During the warmer months, many people ask if they can bury all or some of their beloved pet’s cremated ashes into their garden soil.  Memorializing their pet by nourishing their plants, or perhaps planting a specific tree or bush in their pet’s memory can be a healing activity for many.  Cremated ashes do not pose a health risk to humans or animals. And they are safe to incorporate into the ground*, however, there are a few things to consider when planning to mix a dear pet’s ashes in with plants.

Where will I spread them?– Incorporating ashes into the soil of a garden can be safe, but we encourage you to not spread them in the soil of edibles.  Mixing ashes with the soil of a flower bed can be a way to both nourish the soil and to encourage the growth of beautiful flowers that remind you of your pet.  Because the pH of soil can be affected by the addition of cremains, we recommend spreading the ashes throughout the soil instead of concentrating them under only one plant.  Special growing compounds such as those created by Let Your Love Grow can be mixed with soil to help balance ph.

Should I plant a tree? – Planting a tree to honor your pet’s memory is a lasting, significant way of paying tribute.  There are options for biodegradable pet urns that grow into trees, which you can learn more about here.  You may also choose to pick a tree that has meaning, or one that you find beautiful, and place your pet’s ashes into the hole that is dug for the planting of the tree.  We encourage you to choose a tree that will thrive in your growing zone, and you can learn more about the proper care and planting of Minnesota trees by visiting this website.

What about burying an urn? – Choosing to keep your pet’s ashes contained in an urn and burying the vessel is also a popular choice.  Biodegradable urns can be purchased and buried, providing a “green” choice for the environment.  Alternately, a sturdy urn can be buried in the ground, and a memorial garden or stone could be placed over the site as a permanent tribute.

There are many options for ways to memorialize your beloved pet, and these are only a few suggestions.  We recommend contacting a trusted local garden center for more information on how cremains may affect a specific plant if you have questions or concerns.

A special thanks to Molly Nemec, a University of Minnesota Master Gardener, and animal lover and mama to lab mixes Tucker and Windsor, for her contributions to this article.


*In Minnesota, there are no state laws controlling where you may keep or scatter ashes. (source)

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