Green Burial


The term Green Burial (aka Natural Burial) is defined as dignified burial of human remains in a designated “green cemetery” with no embalming or chemical treatment used. With Green Burial, viewing is limited and only simple biodegradable caskets or containers may be used. Vaults, concrete boxes and machined headstones are prohibited.

Warren-McElwain Mortuary and Cremation Services is one of the first midwest funeral provider to provide Green Burial, with an assortment of service variations and merchandise. In Lawrence, KS, we have the first publicly owned cemetery in the U.S. to have a dedicated section in the cemetery, reserved entirely for Green Burials.


The designated cemetery is Oak Hill Cemetery and we have provided their regulations below for your review.

 Natural Burial plot (section 15 C)

In 2008, the Lawrence City Commission approved to open the 1st Natural Burial Cemetery in the state of Kansas. It is located on the north side of Oak Hill Cemetery. This is an all natural area. The area will not be mowed.

1. Bodies must be interred in at least a minimum of a cardboard carrier. Top of carrier may be left off with the immediate family approval. Wood carriers may be used but they must be made of natural, biodegradable materials (such as cardboard, hardwood) No particle board made with adhesive will be accepted. If so desired by the funeral home or family, a biodegradable 1″ x 12″ x 6′ flat board will be provided by the City to place under the carrier. Metal, concrete, plastic, other synthetic materials and/or stone may not be used for interment, but caskets approved by the Green Burial Council may be used. Cremains may be interred directly.

2. Deceased bodies that are embalmed or otherwise chemically preserved may not be interred in this area.

3. Concrete or steel vaults are not permitted.

4. No cut, machined, or polished markers or monuments of any kind are permitted. You may have engraved natural, flat rocks, or boulders.

5. Native plants, flowers, grasses are the only decorations permitted. No artificial flowers, wreaths, tree chimes and/or any other decorations will be allowed.

6. No Shepard hooks, or ceramic, glass and/or other type of figurine is permitted.

7. Graves may take several years to settle back to the original ground level. Parks and Recreation staff will adjust the ground around uneven graves periodically throughout the year.

8. All work done in the Natural Burial Cemetery will be done by Parks and Recreation staff only. No planting will be done until approved by the Parks and Recreation Horticulture Division.

9. All graves must be dug by machine at a depth no less than 5 feet.

10. The funeral home contracted by the family will provide a lowering device and tent. If the family does not want the use of a lowering device, city staff will be provided to lower the deceased into the ground. If requested, the city will provide a wheeled carrier to place the casket on from the road to the grave site. Due to liability, all families requesting to assist in the lowering of the deceased, will be designated and staged behind city staff. City staff will be designated and staged closest to the grave. If no lowering device is used, the City will provide a bio-degradable 1″ x 12″ x 6′ flat board and ropes necessary to safely lower the deceased into the ground.

11. City staff will hand shovel the first 1/3 of the grave, then modern machinery will complete the process of burial. If family requests to assist in the interment of the grave, shovels will be provided by city staff.


We understand that you may have more questions concerning Green Burial and encourage you to call us at (785) 843-1120. We will answer your questions to help you make this important decision.

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