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Eight Tips for Re-setting Headstones

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These eight tips will help ensure that cemetery headstones have their best chance at standing straight and proud for decades to come.

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Eight Tips for Re-setting Headstones

  1. 1. 8 Tips for RE-SETTING HEADSTONES
  2. 2. 1. Do no harm. The first and most important step is to do no harm. If at any point you are concerned about damaging a headstone or other element of the cemetery, consult a preservation professional. A little caution now can save a lot of work later.
  3. 3. 2. Raise the stone. Before a headstone can be re-set, it must be fully removed. After securing the headstone to a pulley system, be sure to raise it carefully and evenly in order to put as little stress on the stone as possible. Once the stone is removed, it can be laid flat on the ground nearby.
  4. 4. 3. Set your alignment. The easiest way to ensure your stones are re-set in line with one another is to create a system of guide strings running the length of the existing row.
  5. 5. 4. Re-dig the hole. Using a shovel, widen and deepen the existing hole for each headstone. Be sure that all edges and walls of the hole are as straight as possible.
  6. 6. 5. Partially fill the hole. Once your hole is prepared, partially fill the bottom with gravel in order to help level the base and solidify the stone’s position in the hole.
  7. 7. 6. Replace the stone. Carefully raise the stone and re-set it in the new hole being careful to use your guide strings to keep it in line with the other stones. Once the stone is placed, be sure to make sure it is set flat in the hole (the top of both sides are even) by placing a level across the top of the stone.
  8. 8. 7. Tamp down the hole. Once the stone is in place and aligned, continue filling the hole with loose gravel and dirt. As the hole continues to fill, use a two- by-four to tamp down the gravel surrounding the stone.
  9. 9. 8. Finish the job. Once your stone is aligned, level, and in plumb, fill the remainder of your hole, making sure to tamp down the loose gravel and dirt with your two-by-four.
  10. 10. The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America’s historic places. Preservation Tips & Tools helps others do the same in their own communities. For more information, visit SavingPlaces.org. Photos 2, 5, 6, 9 courtesy: A. J. Sisco Photos 1, 3, 4, 7 courtesty: Audrey Hall

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