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Frequently Asked Questions

No question is too simple or too complicated. Here is a relatively short list of some of the questions we are asked most often. Of course, please feel free to call us with any additional questions or concerns you have.


What things are absolutely required for a burial to take place?
In order for a burial to take place three basic things are required at Columbia Gardens. You must have a space, a burial vault and an opening and closing. All of these items must be paid in full prior to a burial taking place.

What is an opening and closing fee?
This is a single charge paid prior to any interment, whether it be a niche, crypt or ground burial space. Included in this fee is the opening of the space, the basic service set-up, the closing of the space following the service and all administrative fees.

Do I need to buy a grave or lot, or can I be buried on an established family lot in the cemetery?
Many families have purchased a right of burial with the intention of creating a legacy, through providing a place for family members to be buried together for generations to come. If you are unsure about available space on a family lot, please contact us and we will be happy to assist you in determining your rights of interment.

Our burial plans have changed, can we sell our property?
Yes. Please contact our office for information on how to transfer cemetery property from one owner to another.

What kind of burial sites do you have?
We have upright monument sites, flat markers, half-sites for individual cremations, above ground single- and double-sized cremation niches, and specially sized sites for infants.

What is the difference between a ‘Plot,’ ‘Site,’ ‘Lot’ and ‘Section?’
The section is the large portion of the cemetery in which the burial site is located, much like a city. The lot typically measures 12 by 2 sites and allows us to narrow the location of your property on the map, much like an address in a neighborhood. The terms “Site” and “Plot” are interchangeable. The site is the exact burial location and gives us an exact address for your property. At Columbia Gardens, most often it is written as Section-Lot-Site. (Ex. J-535-4)

How many interments can be made in a single site?
Up to two interments can be made in a full-size site, whether they are full caskets, cremated remains or one of each.

Why do I need a vault? I already have a casket.
The vault protects the structural integrity of the casket. Caskets are not designed to support the weight of the soil and cemetery equipment required in today’s cemetery. Vaults are designed to support the weight of the soil as well as equipment. If you have ever walked through a historic cemetery, you may have noticed areas where the ground has given way above a gravesite. This is due to a burial without a vault. The casket has deteriorated through the years.

I would like to bury my loved one’s cremated remains. What do I need to know?
Many people use in-ground burial as a way of putting to rest their loved one’s cremated remains. Like a casket burial, we require that the urn be placed into a concrete vault in the ground to protect the urn and the integrity of the earth. If you have been given the cremated remains in a temporary urn by the funeral home, we will be happy to transfer them into your urn for burial here. We require a copy of the “Certificate of Cremation” for our files.

What is perpetual care?
You and your heirs will own the interment rights to your space forever. From our beginning in 1917 to today, a percentage of the purchase price of each interment right is placed in a Care and Maintenance Trust to ensure that your loved ones will always be surrounded by a place of beauty and peace.

Does Columbia Gardens offer green burial?
Yes, we do. Our staff is very knowledgeable and can help you decide if a green (natural) burial is the right choice for you and your family. Please contact our office for a consultation at 703.527.1235 or email us at


Who does Columbia Gardens use for granite monuments?
We have selected Star Granite & Bronze as our preferred vendor for granite monuments. A family-founded company, Star Granite & Bronze offers unparalleled quality and craftsmanship in the manufacture of monuments and memorials. Visit their website at:

How long does it take to create a monument?
We do not carry an in-stock inventory of upright monuments. Each memorial is cut to order and etched to the custom design of the owner. A monument made from a standard color may take 4-6 weeks to deliver. For imported or exotic colored granite, it can take longer – as long as 12 weeks or more.

What if there’s a problem?
Because you are purchasing your monument from Columbia Gardens, and not a third-party vendor, we are your single point of contact for resolving any issues. We stand behind the quality and craftsmanship of all our vendors and will do whatever it takes to fix any problems and make things right for you.


What are your hours?
The Columbia Gardens office is open 9:00 am – 4:00 pm, Monday through Friday and 9:00 am – 12:30 pm on Saturdays. We are open on Sundays by appointment only.

The cemetery is open daily from dawn till dusk, 365 days a year.

How early/late do you allow services?
We hold services as early as 10:00 am or as late as 3:15 pm. Services beginning after 2:30 pm during the week require an additional overtime fee because it is expected they will cause the staff to work past normal closing time.

Do you have additional fees for weekend services?
Yes, there are additional fees for morning and afternoon services on Saturday.

Do you do Sunday burials?
Sunday is the only day of the week we are not able to do burials. This way we are able to provide our hard-working crew a much-needed day of rest.

Do you perform burials on national holidays?
We don’t typically do burials on the following national holidays. Additional overtime fees will apply, but availability will be determined by staff schedules.

  • New Year’s Day
  • Martin Luther King Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Columbus Day
  • Veterans Day
  • Thanksgiving
  • Christmas
  • New Year’s Eve

Do you have dedicated sections in the cemetery for different religious denominations?
In response to a need expressed in our community, we have allocated a special area in our cemetery for the Jewish and interfaith community.  We also have a special area for Catholic burials.  Columbia Gardens Cemetery was blessed by the Diocese of Richmond in the 1950s and our Cremation Garden was blessed by Bishop Michel F. Burbridge in June 2020.

Can you place flowers for me at the site of my loved one, if I cannot be there to place them myself?
Our floral partner, Karin’s Florist, can provide single or ongoing floral memorialization with elegant, carefully crafted arrangements. One of the oldest and most trusted florists in Northern Virginia, Karin’s Florist is family owned, as is Columbia Gardens.
Karin’s Florist

Can I dedicate a rose bush in the Memorial Rose Garden to honor a loved one?
Yes. You may select one of our rose bushes, or work with our rosarian to choose a new bush to plant. Your rose bush will have a placard that includes the name of your loved one and a QR code that links to your tribute of their life. You may also host a gathering on the day the rose is planted. For more information about a Rose Tribute, please contact our office.

How do I donate a tree to honor my loved one?
Planting a tree on our grounds is a lovely way to pay tribute to a loved one. Your tree will be near the gravesite and have a placard with your loved one’s name and a QR code, which links to your tribute of their life. Our office will work with you to select your tree and can help you arrange a dedication ceremony for the planting. As a nationally accredited arboretum, Columbia Gardens welcomes any donations towards adding trees to our grounds.

Does Columbia Gardens allow the burial of pets on its property?
Our charter, established in 1917 with the State of Virginia, states that our property is for the burial of humans only. We are not allowed to bury pets.

When I purchase a space, what am I actually buying?
When you buy space in the cemetery you are not actually purchasing the land. What you are buying is the right to be buried in the space. This is called an interment right.

Can I pre-pay for sites and services?
Yes. We accept pre-payment for sites and interment services.

Do you have a payment plan if I purchase in advance?
If you are able to plan ahead and purchase your burial property and interment service in advance, we offer a 3-month, interest-free payment plan. With a down payment you will be able to hold the property in your name and begin making payments. Please call or visit our office for complete details.