Are you burying the body by itself or in a cremation urn? This is a whole other discussion that has many different options. Check out this article, “How To Plan A Pet Funeral,” to help you decide and view your available choices.
When considering where in your yard to build the garden, think if there was a specific spot where your pet used to love walking or playing with you. Was there a patch of grass your cat loved to curl up and sleep in? Did your dog like to bury his toys in one specific spot? That could be a cute nod to their playful antics.
It is common to bury a pet in the spot you plan to do your garden. Although, if you buried the body already somewhere else or weren’t able to obtain possession of the remains, it’s okay. You can plant a garden anywhere in honor of your pet. Just remember, you can’t build a garden if it’s not first approved by the owner. Private property, most likely your yard, is the best place.
Types of Plants
Do you want plants in your garden? If you want your plants to thrive you need to choose plants that will thrive in the climate of your location. Take note of the amount of sunlight the area gets, rainfall, and what type of soil you have. These will help you choose which plants, soil, and mulch to get. When deciding what types of plants to get, look at the plant's color and mature height. Grass makes a lush carpet for a memorial spot, but ground cover plants are easier to maintain.
Some examples of vegetation you could plant include:
Forget-Me-Knots - These symbolize true love and remembrance of your beloved pet.
Anemone - In Greek mythology, the goddess of flowers, Chloris, asked the west wind to transform the body of the nymph
Anemone, who had died of a broken heart, into a flower. So, this flower symbolizes the importance of turning your pain into something beautiful, like understanding how precious life is and taking time to enjoy the moments you get to experience.
Rose - Again, Chloris finds a beautiful nymph lying lifeless in the forest. Overcome with sadness, she gave her new life by transforming her into the most beautiful flower ever seen before: the rose. The rose represents love. You will eventually let go of the loss, but never the love.
Tree - If you don’t have much space or time for maintenance, an individual tree can become a tribute. Consider these trees below:
Linden Tree or Oak Tree - There is an old legend of famous lovers - Baucis and Philemon. So great was their love that they never wanted to be parted. Zeus allowed them to die at the same moment and be turned into trees that grew side by side. Baucis became the Linden and Philemon the oak. These two trees represent that you will never be parted from the ones you love. They stay with you in your heart forever.
Sycamore Tree - They represent eternity, divinity, hope, and protection, much like the base of an upended sycamore preserved at Ground Zero in New York City. The story goes that on September 11, 2001, the ancient Sycamore tree stood between the small Saint Paul's Chapel of 1766 and the World Trade Center. The collapse of the twin towers caused a shock wave that toppled the 100-year-old tree. Incredibly, it fell in such a way that it shielded the church and its ancient tombstones from the impact and flying debris. Not a single pane of glass broke.
Favorite Plant - Did your pet have a favorite plant it liked to eat or play with? Consider planting another in their honor if it suits the location’s climate.
Another question to ask is, is there a certain season you’d like to have the garden bloom? Hydrangeas, lilies, impatiens, petunias, vincas, and daisies blossom through the summer. You can fill up any shady nooks with foliage plants like hostas and coleus. To add shades of bronze, gold, red, and purple to the autumn palette, you could plant maples, mums, asters, Indian grass, ginkgos, burning bush, or sedums.
Remember, any plants you choose should bring you peace and help you honor the memory of your pet who has passed. If you need advice, you can seek help from workers at your local nursery or garden center.
What do you want to put in your garden?
Headstones - You can purchase an engraved headstone or you can make a DIY headstone with your family. These stones give a personal touch and help to create even more happy memories for your garden. If you don’t have time to build a garden, creating a headstone for the grave is a simple yet touching way to acknowledge and celebrate the life of your pet.
Bench/Seating Arrangement - Did you enjoy reading or sitting on benches with your pet at your side? With a bench, you can reminisce on happy memories of your pet, while sitting peacefully in your garden. You can use an existing piece of furniture you have and make it the centerpiece, painting your pet’s name on it. Or you can purchase a bench with an engraved plaque.
Mementos - You can add any decorative items of personal importance, such as angel statues, sculptures, prayer flags, lanterns, seashells, crystals, wind chimes, sundials, or windmills. Did your pet like playing in the water? Maybe you’d like to build a pond or install a fountain.
Plan everything out first before purchasing items or planting. This will help reduce the number of potential mistakes.
Is there anything on your property you can already use such as transferred moss, lily of the valley, or stones?
We recommend doing a quick sketch of the location and mapping out where the plants and tributes will go. Then before planting, rake the area to the desired size and shape.
Consider ways to make maintenance easier on yourself. Stepping stones or pebbled paths can help avoid mowing and trimming.
Lastly, remember to have fun with this project. The goal is to honor an amazing animal and to process your grief. It’s okay if it takes you a few days or several months to finish this garden. Go at your own pace to build your garden and give yourself time to process your grief. If you need help processing your grief, visit this article for help.