Decoration Rules for Catholic Cemeteries

The Church of St. Mary
McHenry, Illinois
July, 2009

It is with deep respect for the loved one you have entrusted to the care of the Catholic Cemeteries in the Diocese of Rockford that we ask you to read and observe the following regulations in all our cemeteries.

GROWING SEASON (April 1st through October 31st)

Potted plants are permitted in 6 inch to 10 inch pots made of plastic or wood only. Please, no concrete, terra cotta nor other breakable or heavy material. Boxed plants are permitted in boxes that do not exceed 18” long and 6” in width. Pots and planting boxes should be set on the lawn and not dug into the turf nor staked in place. Pots and boxes should be set in front of and close to the memorial.

On monument lots, annual flowers may be planted in a flower bed directly in front of the raised family memorial. Beds may not exceed the length of the memorial nor extend further than 10” in front. Families must provide regular care of the plantings, which will be trimmed to ground level if they become unsightly. All plantings will be trimmed to ground level in the fall after the first frost. There is no planting on lawn level graves.

Artificial flowers are permitted on all graves in approved permanent vases only. All vases must be set into the monument or the ground and must have a hole in the bottom, so that water will not be contained in the vase.
Flags may be placed in the planters with the plants, and also in approved permanent vases. Flags may not be stuck in the ground on wooden sticks, nor may they be attached to the metal veteran’s stakes (which are no longer permitted).

FALL / WINTER (November 15th through March 1st).

Christmas decorations may be either artificial or real.
Christmas lights are not permitted.
Christmas wreaths must be on stands or easels.
Grave blankets or grave coverings are not permitted and will be removed immediately


For safety concerns of our workers and our cemetery visitors, the following are not permitted at any time:

  • Metal stands (including shepherd hooks and other metal rods)
  • Metal pots
  • Metal hooks on pots
  • Glass
  • Any kind of lighting
  • Balloons
  • Signs/banners
  • Statues (unless part of approved monument)
  • Ceramics
  • Toys
  • Other inappropriate items

Decorations are checked weekly and those that have become unsightly or withered are removed. Decorations that do not conform to the rules will be removed immediately. Decorations are removed when there are several placed on one grave at one time. Quality, not quantity, makes beauty. On a monument lot, a single decoration in front of the monument is preferable rather than on an individual grave. Please do not outline graves or memorials by stripping a border of sod from around them. Outlining graves or memorials with metal frames, plastic landscape borders or crushed stone is not permitted. Please do not cut, water or fertilize the lawn in the cemetery. This well-intentioned help very often conflicts with regular cemetery care and has resulted in weed growth and unattractive lawn areas. Perennial plantings are not permitted at any time. Neither dogs nor cats are permitted in the cemetery.

Thank you for your cooperation. These rules are consistent with the rules from the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Joliet Diocese.