City of Des Moines Municipal Cemeteries

The cemetery public conduct policies help us maintain the City of Des Moines Municipal Cemeteries.  Here you can find a lst of the policies and an explanation of each.  You can also find the guidelines for how we manage decorations, plantings, and ornaments. 


  • Click HERE to view a booklet to give you a brief glimpse of the history of the cemetery system, and overview of what we can do to memorialize your loved ones, and a review of the guidelines established for DesMoines Municipal Cemeteries.   

Grave Site Maintenance
  • Employees maintain the grounds and the grave sites within reason.  Family members and friends of the loved ones are responsible for the monument.  Although removing overgrowth from markers is part of regular maintenance, we ask for your support.  If you notice overgrowth contact our office to dispatch our mowing contractors to complete their work.  The resetting grave markers is not usually part of the regular maintenance however, with volunteer and community support, efforts are being made to raise and reset markers. 

Picnicking in Cemeteries
  • Picnicking or loitering on any of the graves or monuments in the cemetery or in any of the buildings is not allowed at any time.

Dogs in Cemeteries
  • No dogs shall be allowed to run at large in any cemetery. Pets should be kept on a maximum 6 feet leash at all times.  Any person in charge of dogs shall clean up or remove any droppings deposited by the dog.

Commercial Photography
  • Commercial photography is not allowed without the permission of the Parks and Recreation Department Director.

Use of Cemetery Grounds
  • Persons within the cemetery grounds shall use only the avenues, walks, alleys, and roads except while attending graveside services and during the time of grave visitation.

Cemetery Hours
  • From the first Sunday in April through the last Saturday in October, cemetery grounds will be open to the public from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. From the day after the last Saturday in October through the first Saturday in April, cemetery grounds will be open to the public from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. No person shall remain in any cemetery at other times without special permission being given by the park and recreation director.

Protect Environment and Animals
  • No person shall gather flowers, either wild or cultivated; break trees, shrubbery or plants; or feed or disturb the birds, fish or other animal life in the cemetery.

Automobiles in Cemeteries
  • No automobiles and other motor-driven vehicles and bicycles shall be admitted to the cemetery except to be in attendance at funerals, for purposes of grave visitation or on business connected therewith. Such vehicles and bicycles shall not be driven through the cemetery at greater speed than 15 miles per hour, and such vehicles must always be driven on the right-hand side of the cemetery roadway. They shall not park or come to a full stop in front of an open grave unless they are in attendance at a funeral. No automobiles or other motor-driven vehicles or bicycles shall enter the cemetery for purely recreational purposes. Special events and functions approved by the Park Director permit visitors to be on cemetery grounds.

Picketing and Demonstrations
  • No member of the public is permitted to perform picketing or staging demonstrations or similar conduct within the cemetery grounds.  This includes speeches or similar conduct to assemble groups of people unless the oration is part of a memorial service.  Display of any placards, leaflets, banners, flags, written or printed or similar devices within the cemetery grounds is not permitted unless, it is approved by the Parks Director and is part of a memorial service or ceremony.

Cemetery Divisions
  • The cemeteries are divided into blocks, which have varying types of burials, planting options, and monument(s) or marker(s) that are permitted.

Family Memorial
  • One central or family memorial, including flush markers, is permitted on a space, lot, or plot and will be centered within that location.

Foot Type Markers
  • In blocks where "foot type markers" are permitted, markers will be placed at the end of the grave farthest from the base of the central or family memorial on the lots or plots. Foot markers are not allowed on single space burials.  (This does not apply to lots sold prior to October 1, 1996.)

Flower Receptacle Maintenance
  • The lot owner or person placing a memorial and/or flower receptacle (vases or nosegays) is responsible for cleaning, repairing and maintaining such fixtures.  Flower receptacles must remain flush with the ground when not in use and, if not properly placed, can be removed by the Park and Recreation Department without notice.

Dates Services Not Allowed
  • Interment, disinterment, removal or interment services are not allowed on Sundays or on the following observed holidays:  New Year's Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veteran's Day, Thanksgiving Days or Christmas Days.

Monument Markings
  • No monument may be marked, engraved, stamped or otherwise identified with the name or logo of the monument company from which it was made or purchased.


  • Decorations will be permitted on the memorial portion of spaces or lots except during the decoration removal period. The decoration removal dates are March 1st - 15th, July 1st - 15th, and October 1st - 15th. Weather permitting, Des Moines Park and Recreation Department staff will begin the process of removing all cemetery memorial decorations that have been placed on grave sites in municipal cemeteries.  Vases, saddles will not be removed.

  • Materials remaining on grave sites will be discarded. Those who wish to keep their decorations, must remove them from the spaces or lots before the decorating period ends. The cemetery will then collect and discard all decorations and containers except fresh decorations in containers integral to the memorial.

  • The cemetery will remove and discard certain ornaments, such as vigil lights, statues, fences, boxes, toys, ornaments, vases, glass, wood signs, cement blocks, and similar articles placed on lots. No material of any kind (white rock, volcanic rock, edging, etc.) shall be placed on or about lots without permission of the Park and Recreation Director.

  • Planting of flowers, shrubs, and trees will be allowed in planting blocks only. No planting is allowed around foot markers or headstones. Only annuals may be planted in a 12 inch wide space along the graveside of the monument. Annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs may be planted at the ends of the monument. All planting must be maintained free of sod and weeds. Perennials, trees and shrubs must not exceed 3 feet in height and 30 inches in width, nor encroach upon adjacent lots. Those placing plantings are responsible for maintaining their own plantings, and those not conforming to these rules shall be removed and discarded by the cemetery staff without further notice.