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Your Guide to Memorial Vase Options

Memorial vase at base of headstone

Memorial vase at base of headstoneGraves that don’t have vases often make cemetery visitors who bring fresh or artificial flowers uncomfortable and frustrated during their visit. Without a vase, they usually have to place fresh flowers on the grave and the flowers then wilt rapidly without access to water. Even if a visitor brings a portable vase, high winds can tip it over and cause damage to it or the gravestone if the vase has a heavy weight design.

Sometimes thieves and vandals steal nice-looking portable vases too. Although there are also plastic vases available that feature an attached ground stake, these vases often crack or break off the stake. Additionally, many visitors, especially older ones, have difficulty planting these types of vases or the stalks of artificial flowers into the grave site soil when it’s too loose from rain saturation or too hard from drought-related dryness.

When making funeral and grave arrangements, people often add one or more vases to their cemetery plot to help their loved ones more easily celebrate their life without any of the above hassles.

Full size, non-hidden vase

Full size vases can be placed almost anywhere near a grave. A common arrangement is one or more vases placed directly on the headstone base on the left or right side or a vase on each side. Another popular design choice is placement of a single vase on a flat, platform area at the top center of the marker between two panels designed to look like objects, such as open scrolls, windows, angels, wings or hearts. Some people have their entire marker designed to look like a pedestal and flower pot.

A memorial vase is typically made from the same type of material as the headstone in a contrasting or complementary color. Of course, a wide range of vase materials, colors, styles and sizes exist. Depending on your personal tastes, you might select, for example, an inscribed or a non-etched vase design with a rounded or cylindrical classic shape, or rectangular or square shape in a completely different material.

Hidden grave site memorial vase

A hidden vase gives your loved ones the option to brighten your upright stone or flat grave marker with flowers at different times of the year without leaving an empty vase in full view when the spot doesn’t have a flower arrangement. Landscapers in some cemeteries actually dispose of fresh flowers when they begin to wilt. They also often dispose of older fresh and artificial flowers before major holidays so that visitors don’t need to do anything other than honor the memories of their loved ones.

Hidden vase arrangements depend on the type of marker. With an upright stone, the hidden vase is simply a hole in the top of the stone. You can leave the stone face near this hole below the top edge blank or inscribe it with the image of a vase. With a flat marker, the hidden vase is a full-size, reversible metal vase. When not in use, the vase rests upside down inside of the marker underground with the underside of the base and a handle the only visible parts. When in use, the vase is carefully unlocked from the marker with a twist, pulled out of the hole, turned upright and then twist-locked into place.

Columbia Gardens Memorials

Since 1964, Columbia Gardens Memorials has helped cemetery caretakers and plot owners in the Arlington, VA, and Washington, D.C. areas create beautiful, long-lasting monuments through a wide range of services. Our caring, expert memorial designers and installers can help you choose the best vase style for your memorial or that of a loved one. We can also update an existing stone with one or more vases and/or a headstone inscription and discuss updated flat marker vase options. For more information about vase designs for burial monuments, contact us today.



Arlington Flowers by Mark Fischer licensed under Creative commons 5


COVID-19 Update

We are continuing to practice social distancing and following CDC guidelines, to protect our community and staff. However, we are open and available to serve you. Todd and our engravers are back on premises working and we are accepting appointments during our normal operating hours. To schedule an appointment with us please call our office at (703) 527-7774 or email us at

Thank you for your understanding during this time. – The Columbia Gardens Memorials Staff