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How to make Cemetery Pillows

David Farrell has over twenty years experience in gardening and works at a garden center.

A simple cemetery pillow assembled with Christmas greenery and decorations, using a wood and wire frame.


Cemetery pillows are Christmas decorations, most often placed at graves, to commemorate loved ones during the holidays. They are made with greens and decorations arranged in a wire frame and pinned into the ground, they do not use soil as do other cemetery decorations. This article will detail how to make your own cemetery pillow.

For this DIY cemetery pillow, you will need the following materials:

-About a half bushel or about five pounds of Christmas greenery.
-Four to eight nails an inch to two inches in length.
-Four pieces of wood an inch to two inches wide, a half inch to an inch thick, and eight to ten inches long.
-A square piece of chicken wire about a foot by a foot, with holes about an inch wide.
-A staple gun.
-Decorations such as statice, red plastic ruscus, artificial poinsettias, or similar.
-A peg, could be wood or metal, and a hammer.

First, to make the frame, cut the wood to the proper length and nail the pieces together to make a square. Then staple the wire to the wood frame, creating a wire dome above the frame. Your frame is now ready to be filled with the greenery.

The greenery can be balsam or Fraser fir purchased from a local garden center, as seen in the photo. Greens you can gather in your yard include yews, arborvitae, or spruce. It is helpful to wear gloves if working with spruce. Some greens are harder to work with, but theoretically any type of green will work. Cut or snap the greens into pieces about eight inches to a foot in length. It helps to cut at an angle so the cut end faces down, and cannot be seen.

You should be able to use almost every piece of greenery if you are strategic. Use the base pieces on the bottom, and the nicer pieces covering them, for the finished look. Ram the greens into the wire, and don't worry if they are loose. As you fill in the cemetery pillow, the stems will fill the inside of the wire from all angles and lock each other into place. Use enough greens in the top to cover all the wire. You do not need to stick a branch in every hole, as long as the greens you do use cover all the wire.

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Now, you are going to need to decorate. For statice, wire or tape a good cluster to a wooden pick and ram it into the center of the arrangement. Then stick the ruscus in at an angle around it. I like to stick them at an angle with the stems going through the clump of statice so they hold the statice in the arrangement. You are free to use any combination of decorations, but the ones I mention are the ones used in the photo.

Your cemetery decoration is complete. Now, you just need a spike. You can find a sturdy piece of wire about a foot long and bend the top of it. A branch about a quarter to half inch thick can be used, especially if it has side branches that serve as a hook. Bring your hammer and stake with you to the cemetery and place your decoration. Drive the spike deep and cover it in the greenery so it cannot be seen. Congratulations! You have just made and placed your own cemetery pillow!

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