Ascension Cemetery Natural Burial Area

Ascension Natural Burial Cemetery - Ruggles & Bohm - Bel Aire - Landscape Architecture

Ascension Natural Burial Cemetery master plan.

For the past year, the Catholic Diocese of Wichita has been presenting the idea of a natural burial area at Ascension Cemetery in suburban Bel Aire to parishioners, seeking their input on the idea. Ruggles & Bohm has been working with Jim Sheldon and Catholic Cemeteries to develop concepts and will soon begin construction documents for the first phase.

Ruggles & Bohm is Proud to Work on the Ascension Cemetery Natural Burial Area, Developing the Second Natural Burial Area in Kansas

Natural, or ‘green’, burial excludes many of the man-made aspects of modern burial – concrete vaults, embalming, ornate caskets, and even headstones. Burial occurs within a few days of death. The deceased are buried in a simple pine or cardboard casket, or only a shroud. No embalming occurs. Burial plots themselves are typically larger than modern cemetery plots, although size varies by location. Natural burial areas themselves, look radically different than typical cemeteries. Manicured lawns and headstones are replaced by native grasses like bluestem, oats, gramas and others. Trees are used around the perimeter of the burial plots rather than mixed throughout the plots in typical cemeteries. Visitors can locate grave sites using natural landmarks (rocks, trees, knolls, etc), or potentially with GPS on your smart phone or tablet.

We are exploring an idea for the design of a memorial wall in the reflection plaza. Buried loved ones could have tiles on the wall with information about their lives or a QR code. The QR code could be scanned with your smart phone or tablet to view your loved one’s information.

The 5-acre plot reserved for development of the natural burial area at Ascension Cemetery was previously part of an agricultural field, requiring a recreated native prairie landscape for the natural burial area. This is a project unique to Kansas, with only one other known natural burial area in Lawrence. We are honored to work on this project with the Diocese and are excited about the design process to come.


For more information about Ascension Cemetery Natural Burial Area, please see the following:

Catholic Diocese of Wichita “Catholic Advance” Story

Catholic Diocese of Wichita Video

KSN News Story

KAKE News Story

Green Burial Council Website