HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — As the weather turns warmer and more people visit the graves of their loved ones, Huntsville City officials are asking for the community’s help to keep cemeteries clean and safe.

Placing flowers or tributes at a gravesite can be a healing way to honor a life that’s passed for families. Large floral bouquets, picture frames, teddy bears and trinkets of all kinds have been set near headstones in memory of those that have died.

However, Huntsville City Interim Cemetery Director Tara Sloan says there are still guidelines in place for cemeteries that need to be kept in mind while honoring loved ones.

“We understand the loss of a loved one is a very difficult time for families, and we want to show respect for those who visit as well as the deceased,” Sloan said.

Sloan says that some of the items brought to gravesites can become dangerous projectiles when the cemeteries are being mowed and maintained during peak grass season. She added that each of the nine cemeteries, nearly 100,000 monuments and over 100 acres of grass are trimmed and cleaned every seven days during peak season.

Items left at the cemetery become easily weathered, broken or dislodged during storms, leaving the cemeteries littered with debris. Items stuck in the ground can create hazards for maintenance workers as striking them with a mower or weed wacker can cause injuries.

Items not allowed include:

  • Shepherd’s hooks
  • Flags
  • Lights
  • Bricks/Rocks
  • Standup decorations
  • Fencing/Coping
  • Stuffed animals
  • Toys
  • Food/Drinks
  • Memorabilia
  • Vases
  • Potted plants

The Cemetery Department says floral arrangements can be placed at a gravesite, but need to be secured to the headstone by using a “saddle” or attached vase, which they say is usually part of a monument. Floral stems set inside a vase still have the potential to fly out, so they recommend securing them with foam, tape or wire.

If you want to plant a tree or shrub near or on a gravesite, you will need to receive approval from the Cemetery Department beforehand.

Still not sure if what you want to bring to your loved one’s grave is allowed? Cemetery guidelines can be found here. You can also email Tara Sloan with any questions regarding cemetery maintenance, or call 256-427-5730.