About: ...after 30 years of becoming corporately numb, my dreams of not working (for pay) and instead creating with my hands has become a reality. Life is grand!

A little imagination and found objects create the basis of a GREEN scene graveyard!

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: Gather GREEN Materials

Do the earth a favor and throughout the year snag...

STYROFOAM PACKAGING  - our office was upgrading all computers and the inserts protecting electrical components refused to end up in a landfill.  The styrofoam packaging is ideal when repurposed into a green graveyard

EXPIRED CAMPAIGN SIGN SUPPORTS  - do the neighborhood a favor and remove stray election signs from public locations the day AFTER the election.  These are great for securing the outdoor decorations

"OOPS" PAINT -  Home improvement centers will often sell mismatched paint  (cheap!) and are willing to tint it grey at no extra charge.  "Free boxes" at garage sales are another source.  These will come in handy when trying to give the appearance of aged marble/concrete.

PLASTIC FLOWERS - what thrift store doesn't have an overabundance of plastic flowers waiting to make another appearance...even if it is at a GREEN graveside?

CHEESY KNICK-KNACKS - prayng angels, infant cherubs, doll heads...can all be painted black/grey and secured to tombstones for an added touch.

While most of the materials can be acquired on the cheap (practically free!), investing in a few tubes of Liquid Nails will be your only major expense when securing layers of  found items together.

Step 2: Ask the Styrafoam What Sort of Gravestone It Wants to Be

The secret to a unique graveyard is variety.  

If a discarded extruded styrofoam product could talk, it would say...gimme another chance at life & a detour from the stinkin' landfill! 

Experiment with a combination of shapes by carving, poking, gluing, sanding, drilling...  The goal isn't total realism but rather to allow the white form to morph into a kid-friendly decoration. 

Step 3: Allow Paint to Cover a Variety of Sins...

OK, so it's still not perfect and sloppy gluing appears, however with paint the item morphs from being boring white styrofoam to a distinctive painted shape.  .

Add personality by priming with OOPS paint and consider permanent markers for smooth-looking details, saving the spray paint for rougher appearing surfaces. 

Likewise,  pumpkin carving guides, Halloween websites and Instructables offer a variety of stencils, epitaths and painting techniques that can be transfered onto the gravestone.

Step 4: Don't Let the Dead Come Alive....

In my part of the world one must secure tombstones to the ground or they WILL end up in the landfill.   Of course one can always attach the styrofoam to plywood by using liquid nails and stakes, but I prefer to keep my gravestones as light as possible so they are easy to store. 

Long hairpin-shaped yardpins are useful in keeping gravestones earthbound, but generally they are not long enough.   By using wire supports from expired campaign signs, a gravestone will remain in your yard if the staves are trimmed to hold it in place.  For instance, consder...

Keep only the CENTER REINFORCEMENT when a tall tombstone needs to be secured.  By trimming one of the two center staves from the (campaign sign) wire frame, an "H" shape remains.  Place the frame into the earth and slip your creation through the remaining staves.

When anchoring gravestones with a base, SIDE TO SIDE reinforcement essential.  Trim the wire frame so it resembles a "U" shape, flip the "U" upside down and secure at the top of the tombstone and into the earth.

A SINGLE SUPPORT is often the only choice for difficult tombstones that have a thick base.  Cut the wire frame into long lengths and spear the gravestone into the earth.  Secure further by bending the top down so an "L" shape appears.

Step 5: Add Found Objects

Statuary will make the 'Garden of Stone' come alive. Of course deeply discounted Halloween theme merchandise adds punch.

If you don't have easily transformed accouterments, hit the thrift store and stock up on artificial flowers, knick-knack, doll body parts and interesting figurines that can be painted grey/black before securing to the headstones. 

Step 6:

Standback, admire and long after the season is over, start growing next year's display by hoarding discarded styrofoam.  Challenge yourself to create a truly unique green/graveyard!

Halloween Contest

Participated in the
Halloween Contest

Be the First to Share


    • CNC Contest

      CNC Contest
    • Teacher Contest

      Teacher Contest
    • Maps Challenge

      Maps Challenge

    8 Discussions


    1 year ago

    Good Instructable except....Never Take A Campaign Sign.
    Those signs are very expensive to the candidate, are frequently reused, and the candidate has a legal period of time to remove those signs. It takes weeks to put them all up and the candidate is usually required to remove them within two weeks of the election. If you take the sign before that legal time period elapses, you could actually be arrested for stealing!


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Excellent idea!  I'm so glad I found this on Earth Day and will have lots of time to save styrofoam and make the graveyard for Halloween.  Thanks!


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Packing material - yuck!!!  I love how you've re-used the styrofoam and how your gravestones "allow" styrofoam to 'be itself" -- i.e. chips, break-aways only enhance the gravestones. Please consider writing the packaging company to insert your instructable as an effort to mitigate some of  their enviro-waste!  I'd wager it would be well-received.

    joni winn

    9 years ago on Introduction

    WOW!  Where do you find such talent!!  This will be perfect for our next fall festival.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Hats off to Instructibles for featuring this.  It gives me a terrific idea for putting the styrofoam packaging from future Christmas gifts to use.  In addition I'll have plenty of time (10 months) after Christmas to ATTEMPT to model this display.  Thanks for sharing this creative idea! 


    9 years ago on Step 1

    I think that styrofoam literally takes forever to break down into the environment.  What a neat use for it that can be reused every year!  This would be fun for kids to do as well.  Thanks for the great idea!


    9 years ago on Introduction

     I forgot that I wanted to mention that we use bamboo skewers to hold our stones, usually 2 thru the back and one on each side is sufficent, really tall stones though do require a scrounge in the junk pile 4 a stake of some kind


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Nice "ible' it could have used more pics of different steps but I realize how difficult it can be to stop in the process of creation to take pics !  You did up some totally awesome stones, we usually get to the graveyard last and filler stones are quikly done in generic style... maybe next year I'll have some inspired by yours.. now to collect some packing material....