How Long Does It Take to Set a Headstone?

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Often, the final step of putting your loved one to rest is setting the headstone at the site of the grave. 

Movies and television may mislead some people into thinking the headstone can be erected at the same time as the burial. But this is not true. There is at least a several weeks’ wait in between, most of the time it’s several months.

There are many factors that affect the timeline of setting a headstone, including the regulations of the cemetery. Here is everything you need to know about how long it really takes to set a headstone:

Letting the Soil Settle

The biggest factor that delays the setting of the headstone is the time it takes to let the soil settle. 

After a burial, the soil near the grave will be loose and contain pockets of air. This creates a weak foundation for the headstone. 

In order to ensure the headstone lasts for generations, cemeteries will often require a settling period before the headstone can be installed. It is recommended that vertical headstones should be placed no sooner than 6 months after the burial. This time will allow the rain, gravity, and other elements to compact the soil. 

Some cemeteries may require a full year to pass, while others might only recommend 6 to 8 weeks. Other cemeteries may have no such regulations at all, and use the help of machines to compact the soil quickly. Some cemeteries the graves are long enough that the foundation is not over the grave, it’s in an area where the ground has never been disturbed. 

Shape & Size of Headstone

Another thing to consider is the shape and size of the headstone. 

For example, flat or horizontal headstones will likely have a shorter waiting period to let the soil settle. This is because it is less noticeable when the position of these memorials shift due to movement in the soil.

If you have commissioned a large or intricately shaped headstone, this will also take longer to install than a simple one. 

Pouring a concrete foundation may also be necessary, and this additional step will add time to the waiting period. 


Finally, consider the climate you live in and the time of year. 

Winter is not an ideal time for setting headstones, as the snow and freezing temperatures can make the job very difficult. Many companies in snowy regions hold off placing a headstone until the warmer months. 

Rain can also hold off the process. 

It can be frustrating to wait for the weather to clear before you can finish this important funerary step. But remember that installing the headstone in perfect conditions will ensure it is correctly placed and lasts for decades to come.

Tips to Speed up the Headstone Setting Process

If you are in a time crunch to finish the memorial site for your loved one, there are a few steps you can take to speed up the headstone setting process:

  • Invest in a concrete-lined grave – This will allow you to skip the waiting period for soil settling. Most cemeteries require a concrete vault before a person can be buried.
  • Research cemetery guidelines – Being totally certain of the cemetery rules and recommendations will ensure there are no last-minute changes or delays. Ask about the style and size of headstones allowed in the cemetery and specific installation regulations.
  • Shop around – Some unscrupulous cemeteries may try to pressure you to buy a headstone from them. But remember, you know what’s best for your loved ones. If you are not satisfied with their services, shop around for better options. 

Headstones, Urns, & Memorials In Maryland

Here at Merkle Monuments, we understand the importance of setting the grave marker for the person you have lost. That’s why we offer high-quality headstones, urns, and memorials in a variety of styles and designs. We work hard to fit almost any budget and timeline, so you can close the book on the funerary process.

We are a family-owned business that has serviced Maryland for almost 90 years! Call now to learn more.