FREE next day delivery* on stocked items in mainland UK. Support UK Business Dismiss

Natural Ashes Burial Site and Memorial Tree Sites

Natural Burial Site for Ashes and Memory Trees

'I want to become a tree when I die'.

This is one of the most popular ashes requests in the UK. It's a circle of life thing, creating a life from a life, you can understand why people want to bury their ashes and grow a tree.  Burial of ashes - with or without a memory tree - in a woodland or meadow, is the ideal choice for so many of us,  a beautiful, peaceful environment that will be safe from any future development.

If you want to know about planting a memorial tree with ashes we can help. We have gathered together all the natural ashes burial sites and woodlands in the UK. Each map pin has a link to a site so you can find more information about what is on offer and the costs involved. Many sites offer ashes burial with a memorial tree.

Featured

woodland ashes wbc

Woodland Burial Company

Life for alife memorial woodland

Life for a Life

plant a tree with ashes scattering ashes

Memo Trees

Ashes woodland

Wilsill Memorial Wood

Disclaimer: This map has been made with the best data available, if there are any errors we apologise, if you spot something and want us to change it please drop us a line and we will see to it.

Natural Burial and Woodland Burial Sites

There are now a huge number of Natural and Woodland Burial sites around the country, many were created as an alternative to a standard cemetery burial. The ones we have listed permit ashes burial and many allow the ashes to be planted with a memory tree on or adjacent to a burial plot.

What is a Natural Burial or Woodland Burial Site?

Fundamentally it is a place that allows people to be buried in a natural setting – a meadow, forest, glade or such like. It the opposite of a formal cemetery with headstones, marked plots, mown grass and paved paths. It is a return to nature. The sites are specifically designed to encourage wildlife and increase biodiversity.

Is a natural or woodland ashes burial for you?

If you answer mostly yes to the following questions then a natural or woodland burial is likely to be the right choice for you:

  • Do you want a nature-rich setting?
  • Do you prefer an informal setting?
  • Is biodiversity important to you?

And if you would like the following then it probably isn't the place for your ashes:

  • A headstone or statue
  • Formal cut lawns
  • Ability to leave mementos such as teddys, plastic flowers etc

What should I check when choosing a natural burial ground or memorial woodland?

It is always good to ask the following:

  1. Can I scatter or bury on the site?
  2. What type of memorials do they allow/offer?
  3. Can I plant a tree with the ashes?
  4. How is the tree protected?
  5. Is it easy to visit?
  6. What are the site rules?
  7. What are the costs and what do you get for your money?
  8. Are there any rules around how the ashes are contained?
  9. What is your environmental policy?
  10. Will I be able to find the plot again?
  11. Can I buy a family plot?
  12. Is the site fully protected from any future development?

Do I have to Bury or Scatter all of the ashes?

No, you can keep some back if you choose. You may want to keep some ashes for memorial jewellery or glassware, or to give to other members of the family. This is unlikely to affect the cost.

Can I use any urn?

Most sites will stipulate that only the ashes in a biodegradable urn can be buried. There are differing ideas about what is biodegradable. It needs to be able to break down completely in the soil over time without impacting the ground adversely. Therefore metal urns are unacceptable. Wooden urns made of glued MDF are also likely to be unsuitable. Urns made from just natural wood, card or wicker are most likely to be acceptable. It is important to check with the site before purchasing the urn.

Can I bury other items with the ashes?

Unlike a formal cemetery natural burial sites are trying to keep the site in harmony with nature so burying anything that is not completely natural is unlikely to be approved.

How is the grave marked, can I have a headstone?

There may be a possibility of a headstone in some sites but these, if available, will be discrete and laid flat so they act as a marker for the spot. Similarly, anything you may wish to leave at the graveside will need to be appropriate e.g. wildflower petals will probably be okay, whereas a floral bouquet in cellophane and a wire tie will not.

Do all the sites allow me to plant a tree with the ashes?

No, they are all different. In some sites a tree would be inappropriate for the landscape, some sites simply do not offer them, and some do not allow a memorial tree on every individual plot. It is really important to check this before confirming your decision.

Can I plant any memory tree I want?

Planting any tree will not be acceptable in an ashes burial site. This is for two key reasons:

  • Space -  some tree species such as oak need about 40 plots worth of canopy space per tree to mature properly and many locations are unable to provide this amount of space.
  • Suitable for the environment - if you put a Scots Pine in the middle of an English Broadleaf Woodland it is going to look completely out of place and probably won't support the local wildlife. Look at the landscape where you are burying and see what other trees are thriving, or speak to the burial site and ask them for advice.

What is difference between natural burial and woodland burial?

A natural burial site does not necessarily have trees and they may be stricter about what is you can bury. Woodland burials, as the name implies, is all about trees. You may or may not be permitted to plant a memory tree though, always check, some sites only allow ashes to be buried amongst trees already planted.

Is this an Environmentally Friendly way to say goodbye?

Yes, these sites maximise environmental benefits and often focus on the key issues of carbon, pesticides, water use, and biodiversity. You may also wish to factor travel to and from the site, if you choose an environmentally friendly site two hundred miles from you, your travel will have its own impact.

What happens at a woodland burial?

A woodland or natural burial is one of the more flexible types of funerals. You don't even have to have a ceremony, you can simply bury the ashes. The sites do not have a religious affiliation so there in no expectation of prayers and hymns. You are very welcome to do this if you wish, the choice is yours. If you would prefer an experienced person to lead the ceremony then you may want to consider hiring a celebrant. They can assist you in planning and carrying out the ceremony.

Many sites have an enclosed or partly enclosed space for ceremonies which is helpful, especially if the weather is poor. These can also double up as fantastic space for a wake should you wish. You just need to check with the site before booking.

Are Natural Woodland burial sites regulated?

There isn't an official regulatory body although many sites are either members of the Institute of Cremation and Cemetery Management (ICCM) or the Natural Death Centre, or both. The Natural Death Centre pioneered natural and woodland burial sites, they are passionate about natural death and make sure their members operate to an agreed standard. We have long been big supporters of them.

What will happen once a site is full?

What happens will depend on the site. Some have part of your fee put into a trust fund to manage the maintenance of the site once it is complete. Others will have the express intention of returning to agriculture (livestock). Woodlands will look to continue to be managed as woodlands, again please check with the site about their intentions before purchasing a plot.

Recording of the Burial

The site and the company will keep a record of plots for referral, this is likely to stay with the company. We recommend using the Ashes Register as a free way of recording the ceremony, as it will keep it safe for your future generations.

The cost of a woodland or natural burial for ashes

What is the cost to become a tree when you die? There are a few factors that will affect the cost:

  • The plot itself
  • The exaction of the plot and subsequent filling
  • The memorial tree itself
  • The marker or memorial
  • Any other additional services such refreshments or use of the building.

Generally speaking the price of your plot will start at around £300*. The location will obviously affect the price, as will the choice of your tree. The size will also have an impact i.e. if you decide on a family plot. Unfortunately there is not a simple “you should expect to pay no more than” guide price as there are so many factors involved. It is important to check exactly what you are buying. You may also want to see whether there are any time restrictions, this is often the case for more formal settings such as graveyards and unlikely in a natural setting, but worth double-checking. Find out what guarantees are included, for example will they replace your tree if it dies within the first two years?

How long will my tree last?

Different trees have different life expectancies the Yew tree for example may live over a 1,000 years. The key issue is management in the trees early years before it has established itself. Speak to the site operator and see what they promise, many will offer a replacement free of charge if it dies in x number of years. We also think that operators should use Return To Nature (RTN) soil product to minimise the impact of ashes on the tree and maximise the amount of nutrients taken from the ashes so you can truly 'become a tree when you die'.

Why have ashes woodland and ashes natural burial become popular?

There are many reasons why burying ashes and planting a memorial tree have become so widespread, here are just a few of them:

  • The locations of the sites are beautiful places to be and visit.
  • People love the thought of ‘becoming a tree’ a life from life, a return to nature.
  • There is real longevity, they will be forever part of the landscape as opposed to being cut into it.
  • The sites are free from religious dogma. They are secular spaces to reflect the world and society we live in.
  • They are a positive choice, a mark to show you thought, you cared and you decided.
  • Sense of place: for many scattering ashes on a shore is ideal but for others this is what they want. They want somewhere to visit and to know their loved one is there ‘resting’ in a peaceful environment.

I used Direct Cremation, can I still use one of these sites?

Direct Cremation and simple funerals have become increasingly popular. Around a fifth of all funerals now chose this option and that percentage is growing. Whilst it may seem a good option financially and for making sure there is ‘no fuss’, it can mean that the 'saying goodbye to someone' element has been missed. By combining a direct cremation with a woodland / natural burial you could get the best of both worlds. A ceremony without all the cars and faux victoriana pomp, but with an opportunity to come together; to reflect, share memories and mark the passing of that very special person.

Are all sites the same?

No. They vary as much as the landscapes they inhabit. From the Scottish Highlands to Oxford Meadows they will all have a different look and feel. Similarly, the nature they attract will vary, the sites will have lots of information about which wildlife will be present in their sites.

All sites will have their own rules about visiting and grave markers. Some sites will have a super strict policy around leaving flowers on an anniversary, others will allow any flowers but clear them away after a couple of days. It is worthwhile visiting before purchasing and seeing what is allowed, if there are flowers then they probably have a more relaxed policy.

Are they all run by the same company?

No, the majority of sites are independent with a few owners having a couple of sites, some are run by charities.

How permanent are they?

Due to their rural nature and the fact they are a burial ground it is safe to assume that they are more permanent than any other forms of land. However there is always the potential for major land change such as a road but this is extremely rare.

Which site is right for me?

Choosing the right site for your ashes will depend on what exactly you want:

  • If you want your ashes to be planted with a memory tree then this will narrow your choice of location.
  • Whether you want to people to visit and how often.
  • What sort of environment do you want – forest glade or spring meadow.
  • What budget you have to spend.
  • Any specific requirements about the memorial marker.

What do I get for my money?

This depends what you choose but essentially it is a permanent place in the landscape. Each site should have a clear price list, a cost for the ashes plot, a cost of the memorial tree and what type, the cost of excavating the plot and any other memorial options such as a plaque.

What if I change my mind?

Check your contract. If it is after you have buried your loved one's ashes then you may be able to exhume – however these sites are usually shallow burials or buried with a memory tree so there wouldn't be an urn to dig up and the ashes would be integrated into the soil.

Can I buy a space for my family?

Most sites will have options for family plots. This can get become tricky with grandchildren, extended family and step families. Check what is acceptable for you and your family and make it clear what you decide.

Where are they and how do I contact them?

Each pin has a link to a site, follow the link and go through their website

*Approximate starting cost as at March 2024

Missing Sites

Do you have a woodland or natural burial site for ashes and would like it included here? We are trying to provide the public with the greatest number of options for ashes of their loved one so it would be great to hear from you....

Just drop us a line at info@scattering-ashes.co.uk

Scroll to top