Last updated 16th March 2023
Many people love to visit the churchyards in our diocese because they provide a beautiful, calming, peaceful green space in which to relax or visit the graves of loved-ones. Maintaining our churchyards can be a difficult task for PCCs. This page will offer advice on caring for your churchyard and looking after your trees.
For information on churchyard and tree safety, please visit the Churchyard Safety page.
Caring for Your Churchyard
If your churchyard is still open for burials or does not contain any burials, maintenance of the churchyard is the responsibility of the PCC. This can be an opportunity for PCC's to create a welcoming environment for visitors as well as a haven for insects, birds and wildlife. The Caring for God's Acre website offers advice for PCC's who wish to manage its churchyard to encourage biodiversity as well as provide many case studies of churches who have successfully adapted their churchyards in this way.
The Church Buildings Council also provide advice on encouraging biodiversity.
Biodiversity includes all insects and animals who may be attracted to our churchyards and the use of traps and poisons in the churchyard is not recommended. Creatures such as moles may cause unslightly molehills but are beneficial for aerating the soil and helping with drainage. Moles are not dangerous. However, should their presence begin to cause too much difficulty in managing the churchyard, they should be deterred by humane methods other than traps. See here for guidance from the RSPCA on deterring moles.
If your churchyard is full for burials and has been officially closed by Order in Council under the Burial Act, maintenance for the churchyard is usually handed to the Local Authority as part of that process. The Local Government Act 1972 states that the Local Authority should keep churchyards "in decent order and its walls and fences in good repair". This should include cutting the grass, repairs to churchyard walls and tree maintenence.
If your churchyard has recently become full and you would like to apply to the Ministry of Justice for a closure Order, please click here.
The Church Buildings Council website has guidance on looking after trees. Please click here for more details.
Advice for Ash Die Back
Ash Die Back is an increasingly common problem with many of the Ash trees in our churchyards. Ken Linford, the DAC Tree Adviser, has produced this helpful guidance document to help clergy and parish officers identify Ash Die Back and advice on when action is needed for the Ash tree. Download the guidance here.
Planting trees in a churchyard requires permission from your Archdeacon under List B7 (1) – please contact the Church Buildings Support Officer if you need further help or guidance on applying for List B permission.
Ken Linford, the DAC Tree Adviser, has produced a helpful guidance note on planting trees in churchyards which can be downloaded here. Further advice on the planting and caring for Trees can be found on the website of the Woodland Trust.