What is a Lawn Crypt & How Much Does it Cost?

Cemetery with lawn crypts

If you’re trying to decide what type of burial is best for you or a loved one, you’ll need to choose from among several different options. One such option is a lawn crypt. In selecting this type of burial, families are opting for protection, value, and peace of mind. 

What is a Lawn Crypt?

Lawn crypt diagram

A crypt is a chamber built to house a casket. Usually made of strong concrete materials, they have heavy, flat lids often reinforced by steel rebar. The purpose is to protect the casket from the elements so that the interior space remains dry and clean. Families who desire peace of mind knowing burials are protected from outside conditions often choose lawn crypts.

Think of a crypt as a modular unit that can be placed within a structure. As an above ground, it can be built into a mausoleum. As a below ground option, you can find crypts located under churches or built into what’s known as a lawn crypt (also known as a “garden crypt”). Many of the old churches and cathedrals in Europe have crypts placed below the main altar. They often contain the remains of important religious figures from the Medieval era.

Also, the word “crypt” is sometimes used interchangeably with the word “vault.” Both signify an outer chamber that’s meant to hold and protect a casket. 

Mausoleums vs. Lawn Crypts

Most people are familiar with the kind of crypt that’s found within a mausoleum. Mausoleums are buildings in which caskets can be placed for above-ground burial. Families visit their loved ones under the roof of a climate-controlled structure where crypts can be placed one on top of the other. Some rise 20 stories or more. Each crypt is marked with names and dates of individuals who are laid to rest there.

A lawn crypt is essentially an underground mausoleum.

The big difference between a mausoleum and a lawn crypt is that whereas the former is a building that families may enter, the latter is an underground structure that does not have an entryway. Instead of visiting their loved ones inside a structure, families visit a lawn marker or a grassy area of a cemetery garden in order to pray or reflect upon their loved one’s passing. 

Traditional Burial vs. Lawn Crypt

In both a traditional burial and a lawn crypt burial, the casket is placed below ground level. With traditional burial, the casket is placed into an underground vault that is just slightly larger than the casket itself. The vault is placed in a dug hole that’s four to six feet deep. Family burial vaults allow for several burials in one vault and one large dug space.

A lawn crypt, on the other hand, is much larger and allows for multiple burials in an underground structure. The people buried in a lawn crypt are not necessarily all from the same family. The crypts share wall space, which allows for maximizing the usable square footage in a cemetery. Lawn crypts are often made of pre-cast crypt units, which can accommodate winter burials in a much more cost-effective manner than with wintertime traditional burials.

Families who seek value will want to take note that all of those factors have the effect of lowering the average lawn crypt cost.

Unlike a traditional burial vault, lawn crypts are built with several features that protect caskets from the elements and allow for space-saving design:

  • Drainage system. An elaborate drainage system is built around a lawn crypt, which keeps the crypts dry. 

Lawn crypt drainage system

  • Shared wall system. Some, but not all, crypts have a shared wall system that allows for more crypts to be placed on valuable, expensive cemetery land. This creates value for families who may not be able to afford a traditional burial plot. 

Lawn crypt shared walls

  • Reinforced walls. The exterior side walls of a lawn crypt may be reinforced with steel to give protection against the weight of the surrounding ground. 

Lawn crypt reinforced walls

  • Reinforced lids.  Sometimes the lids of the crypts are made of poured concrete, which offers solid protection against top weight once the garden above has been planted. Maintenance activities and cemetery equipment can create a load. 

Lawn crypt reinforced lids

Crypts for Couples

What is a lawn crypt for couples? Just as they are in a mausoleum, crypts in a lawn crypt are placed side by side as well as atop of one another. Sometimes the crypts allow for double placement of caskets, to accommodate couples. The lawn crypt cost of these double crypts is usually lower than if you were to buy two separate single crypts. 

There are two main types of crypts for couples: 

  1. Companion crypts. Crypts can be built to accommodate two caskets side by side. These are often called “companion crypts.” Picture a double-wide mobile home or a double bed to envision how a companion crypt is set up. 
  2. True companion crypts. A true companion crypt is also built for couples but differs in that the caskets are placed end-to-end. Picture a train, where cars are linked end-to-end, to envision how a true companion crypt is set up. Sometimes these are also referred to as “Tandem Crypts.” 

How Much Does a Lawn Crypt Cost?

Lawn crypts tend to be relatively cost effect. You’ve already learned about a few cost-saving reasons why:

  • Space-saving shared walls 
  • Resource-saving underground placement for cemeteries that have limited room to expand 
  • Cost-effective options such as companion crypts 
  • Easier winter burials 
  • Resource-saving pre-cast units that are engineered and placed ahead of time 
  • Easier, faster, onsite excavation, which saves resources for cemeteries, who then pass the savings along to families 

What is a lawn crypt going to cost?

The price of a lawn crypt burial will depend on several factors, but in general you can expect to pay less than you would for entombment in a mausoleum. For a single crypt, expect to pay anywhere from $3,200 up to $6,000 or even $10,000 depending on location and customizations inclusive of everything. For a double lawn crypt, the price can range from $5,000 to $10,000 or upwards of $20,000 based on customizations.

Price factors to keep in mind:

  • Location 
  • How you memorialize the site 
  • Whether it’s a single or double crypt 
  • When you purchase your crypt (inflation causes prices to rise, so as time goes by, the price of burial in a lawn crypt will go up) 
  • Whether pricing includes interment, outer container, and marker 

To save money, families often pre-purchase their lawn crypt in advance, to ensure they get all the details they want but only the details they want, and to avoid inflation. Learn more about burial planning.

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