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How To Reset The Ground Supporting A Headstone

Over time, headstones and grave markers need to be reset, particularly when they’re only held upright by the ground. This could be due to a variety of factors that include weather conditions, shifting soil, and the mere passage of time.

But can a headstone be corrected, though? Fortunately, even an older headstone can be corrected and reset using simple techniques. This blog provides a step-by-step guide to resetting ground-supported headstones, which should be applicable regardless of the size you’re working with.

Steps for resetting the ground supporting a headstone

Before starting the project, keep a few things in mind. First and foremost, you should avoid doing any harm to the headstone or any other part of the cemetery. If you get concerned at any point in the process, it’s best to stop and look for professional help. This would help prevent additional work and potential costs.

In case you’re wondering what to do with an old headstone that’s already too worn out or damaged to reset, it might be best to just replace it. You can check out some stunning monuments on offer online to have an idea of the price range. While looking for one, consider the material used. The material should be strong enough to withstand natural elements. Granite is a good example. It’s not only capable of weathering the elements without breaking down but is also durable.

Measure the row

Depending on where you’re working, you might need to run the line levels and measure the row where the headstone is. There are organised cemeteries that are very particular when it comes to stone height and alignment. Moreover, you have to take note of legislations in place. You’ll need a masonry string and a line level to ensure you keep in proper stead.

For example, if the required average height for stones is 24 inches above the grave, that’s the height you need to set the string to.

Remove the right amount of dirt

A small amount of dirt has to be removed around the headstone. The amount depends on the stone’s lean. You need to keep in mind that you should minimise the stress placed on the headstone before lifting it.

Additionally, make sure not to touch the stone with the shovel when working around it to avoid damage. It’s wise to use a tarp or plywood as well to lay the dirt on. This will keep the cemetery neat after you’re done.

Lift the headstone

Here are a few things you’ll need to lift the headstone:

  • Rolling aluminium gantry with a one-ton chain hoist
  • Nylon strap
  • Basket hitch

This is a two-person job at the very least. One person is tasked with the chain hoist while the other always stays with the stone. Raise the headstone gently, but don’t allow the chain, hook, or any part of the equipment to hit the stone.

Remember, it’s advisable to don a hard hat whenever using any overhead equipment.

Adjust the hole

Next, the hole needs to be widened and deepened to make space for gravel. For the depth, a good rule to go by is subtracting the stone’s total height from that which stays above the grave. Then add four inches to it for gravel space.

Once you reach the necessary depth, tamp down the soil before adding the four inches of gravel. After that, tamp it down again.

Return the headstone

While you can do this manually, it might be best to go back to the gantry and strap you used earlier, just to be sure. Again, this job requires at least two people.

Add gravel to level the headstone

When you have the headstone back in the hole and at the desired height, ensure that the stone is level and secure as you place gravel around it. Instead of using a shovel, it’s best to use a wooden 2×4 for tamping down. This is to avoid damaging the headstone.

After tamping the gravel down, leave a few inches of room for either sand, soil, or the sod you removed. The gravel not only helps hold the stone, but it acts as drainage as well. It’s advisable to use small, sharp-grade gravel for this. Round or tumbled gravel tends to allow the stone to move in different directions.


Of course, when you’re done, make sure to leave the space as you found it. If any dirt or sod can’t be tamped down cleanly, bag it and dispose accordingly.

Final words

Resetting a headstone can be a simple enough task if you know what you’re doing. You just need to have the right equipment for the job and number of people to help you. But if you’re in doubt about pulling the job off, don’t hesitate to hire a professional. Give Olympia Marble a call today.