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Title:
Lawn crypt covering system and method
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A lawn crypt system and method in which at least one lawn crypt is buried at a burial site and covered with a covering layer of artificial material such as artificial turf. In a cemetery, an array of crypts are buried in a single hole and an artificial turf layer extends over all of the crypts, and is bonded to the array at least around its periphery. At each interment, a cut is made in the artificial turf around the lid of the lawn crypt at the burial site, the lid and cut section of turf is lifted off the crypt, the casket is placed into the crypt, and the lid and cut section of turf are replaced over the crypt.


Inventors:
Alfred Sr., Sannipoli L. (Temecula, CA, US)
Bobbitt, Gary M. (San Bernardino, CA, US)
Sannipoli, Wayne Peter (Escondido, CA, US)
Application Number:
10/421008
Publication Date:
10/28/2004
Filing Date:
04/22/2003
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
52/131, 52/134, 52/136
International Classes:
E04H13/00; (IPC1-7): E04H13/00
View Patent Images:
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Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GORDON & REES LLP (101 WEST BROADWAY, SAN DIEGO, CA, 92101, US)
Claims:

We claim:



1. A lawn crypt system, comprising: at least one lawn crypt for burying at a burial site, the crypt comprising a rectangular container for holding at least one casket, the container having an open top, and a lid for covering the open top of the container; and a covering layer for covering the lid of the crypt after burial, the covering layer comprising artificial material.

2. The system as claimed in claim 1, including bonding means for bonding the covering layer to the crypt lid.

3. The system as claimed in claim 1, including a layer of fill material between the lid and the covering layer.

4. The system as claimed in claim 1, including a marker retaining indent in the lid of the crypt, the covering layer having a cut-out around the marker indent, and a grave marker installed through the turf layer cut-out and into the indent.

5. The system as claimed in claim 1, including a layer of fill material beneath the crypt.

6. The system as claimed in claim 1, including a sealing gasket between the lid and open upper end of the container.

7. The system as claimed in claim 1, including a plurality of lawn crypts buried to form an array of crypts arranged side-by-side in a series of adjacent rows with a predetermined gap between adjacent crypts in each row and adjacent rows of crypts, a layer of porous fill material located beneath the array of crypts and non-porous fill material filling the gaps between adjacent crypts and crypt rows, and the cover layer covering the top of all of the crypts in the array.

8. The system as claimed in claim 7, wherein each crypt has a lower wall having at least two drain holes, and a drainage assembly for liquids and gases extends through the layer of porous fill material beneath the array of crypts.

9. The system as claimed in claim 8, in which the drainage assembly comprises a series of perforated pipes extend beneath the array of crypts such that at least one length of pipe extends beneath each crypt, at least one outlet pipe, each perforated pipe having at least one end connected to the outlet pipe, and a vertical stand pipe connected to the outlet pipe for venting of gases.

10. The system as claimed in claim 9, wherein the drainage assembly comprises a second gas circulating pipe and a second stand pipe connected to the second circulating pipe, each perforated pipe having a second end connected to the second gas circulating pipe.

11. The system as claimed in claim 1, wherein the artificial material is artificial turf.

12. A lawn crypt system for a cemetery, comprising: a plurality of lawn crypts arranged in an array comprising a plurality of rows of crypts arranged side-by-side in each row with a predetermined gap between adjacent crypts in each row and a predetermined gap between adjacent rows of crypts, each crypt comprising a container having an open top and a lid covering the open top of the container; the array of crypts being located in a hole in the ground at a predetermined depth beneath the surrounding grade level; and a cover layer of man-made covering material extending over the lids of all of the crypts in the array.

13. The system as claimed in claim 12, wherein the cover layer is located directly on top of the crypt lids.

14. The system as claimed in claim 13, including a bonding material extending around the periphery of the array and securing the periphery of the cover layer to the array of crypts.

15. The system as claimed in claim 14, wherein the bonding material comprises double sided carpet laying tape.

16. The system as claimed in claim 12, wherein the covering material comprises artificial turf.

17. The system as claimed in claim 12, including a lower layer of fill material beneath the array of crypts.

18. The system as claimed in claim 17, including a gas drainage system embedded in the fill material beneath the crypts, and a stand pipe remote from the crypt array and connected to the drainage system for venting gases, each crypt having a lower wall with at least two drain holes.

19. The system as claimed in claim 12, including a non-porous fill material filling the gaps between the crypts and crypt rows.

20. The system as claimed in claim 12, wherein each crypt has a sealing gasket between the open top of the container and the lid.

21. The system as claimed in claim 12, including a cut-out region in the covering layer over each crypt lid, the crypt lid having a marker holding recess, and the cut-out region exposing the marker holding recess.

22. The system as claimed in claim 12, wherein at least some of the lawn crypts are double depth crypts.

23. An interment method, comprising the steps of: burying at least one lawn crypt comprising a container and a lid to a predetermined depth; and covering the lid of the lawn crypt with at least one layer of a man-made covering material.

24. The method as claimed in claim 23, wherein the covering material comprises artificial turf.

25. The method as claimed in claim 23, wherein the crypt is buried to a depth such that the lid is approximately at grade level and the covering layer is secured directly on top of the lawn crypt.

26. The method as claimed in claim 23, wherein the crypt is buried such that the lid is a predetermined depth below grade level, and a layer of fill material is placed on top of the crypt lid prior to placing the covering material layer on top of the fill material.

27. The method as claimed in claim 23, wherein the step of burying the lawn crypt comprises the steps of digging a hole to a predetermined depth, and placing a layer of porous fill material into the hole prior to burial of the lawn crypt.

28. The method as claimed in claim 23, comprising burying a plurality of lawn crypts in an array in a single hole in the earth, the array comprising a series of rows of lawn crypts arranged side-by-side in each row with gaps between each adjacent pair of lawn crypts in each row and gaps between each adjacent row of crypts, and placing a single layer of the covering material to extend over the entire array of crypts.

29. The method as claimed in claim 28, further comprising the step of filling all of the gaps between crypts with a non-porous fill material.

30. The method as claimed in claim 28, further comprising the steps of, at each interment, cutting through the covering material around the lid of the lawn crypt at the burial site, lifting the lid and cut section of material off the crypt, placing the casket into the crypt, and replacing the lid and cut section of covering material over the crypt.

31. The method as claimed in claim 30, further comprising the step of adhering the cut section of covering material and adjacent cut edge of material around the periphery of the lid after the interment with a bonding material.

32. The method as claimed in claim 31, further comprising the step of cutting out a section of covering material over the lid to leave a cut out opening and installing a grave marker into the opening.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates generally to lawn crypts or burial vaults, and to cemeteries where such crypts are buried.

[0002] In the past, coffins or caskets of various materials were buried under the ground and covered with a layer of turf or grass. An improvement over this system was the introduction of lawn crypts or burial vaults, which may be of single or double depth, and which are of a strong, durable material such as concrete. The crypt is installed at a burial site prior to any interment, and is again buried under the ground and covered with a layer of turf or grass. At an interment, the turf is removed to expose the lid of the crypt, the lid is lifted off, and the casket is lowered into the crypt. The lid is then replaced and the dirt and turf is replaced over the top of the crypt. Although this system has advantages, there is a requirement in the United States that there is at least 18 inches of ground cover above the crypt lid for a single layer lawn crypt, and 12 inches of ground cover for a double depth crypt. A double depth lawn crypt or vault is described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,746,030 of Sannipoli, while a modified lid for such a crypt, incorporating a headstone support, is described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,243,997 of Sannipoli.

[0003] One problem with existing cemeteries having buried lawn crypts is that a large amount of digging has to take place at each interment. This involves driving heavy digging equipment over the turf to the grave site, which often damages the grass, then digging down to 12 to 18 inches below grade level to expose the lid of the crypt. After the interment, the procedure is repeated to replace the dirt and turf over the crypt. This is also very labor intensive and expensive. There is also the problem of maintenance costs for a large area of grass, and water damage to crypts and headstones as a result of daily watering of the grass. Another problem in prior cemeteries where headstones are placed in the earth above a crypt is that they will tend to tilt or even fall over with time as a result of the inconsistent support of the surrounding earth.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0004] It is an object of the present invention to provide a new and improved lawn crypt system and interment method.

[0005] According to one aspect of the present invention, a lawn crypt system is provided, which comprises at least one lawn crypt for burying at a burial site, the crypt comprising a rectangular container for holding at least one casket, the container having an open top, and a lid for covering the open top of the container, and a covering layer for covering the lid of the crypt after burial, the covering layer comprising artificial turf or other artificial or man-made material.

[0006] The artificial turf may be secured directly to the upper surface of the lid by a suitable bonding material or adhesive. In an alternative arrangement, a fill material may be placed on top of the crypt lid, and the artificial turf is then laid on top of the fill material. The fill material may be gravel, dirt, sand, or the like.

[0007] In an exemplary embodiment of the invention, the system comprises a plurality of lawn crypts buried to form an array of crypts arranged side-by-side in a series of adjacent rows at a cemetery, each crypt having opposite side walls and end walls, with a predetermined gap between adjacent crypts in each row and adjacent rows of crypts, a predetermined thickness of fill material forming a layer beneath the array of crypts, fill material filling the gaps between adjacent crypts and crypt rows, and a layer of artificial turf covering the top of all of the crypts in the array. The artificial turf may be laid directly on top of the array of crypts, or a layer of fill material may be provided between the crypt array and the turf. Where the artificial turf is laid directly over the lids of the crypts, it may be secured to the array by a suitable bonding material around the periphery of the array.

[0008] A seal will be provided around the lid of each crypt so as to prevent or reduce leakage of any gases upwardly from the interior of the crypt. A drainage or leach system for liquids and gases may be provided beneath the array of crypts. Each crypt will have a base wall having two spaced drain openings. At the same time, a series of perforated pipes extend beneath the array of crypts such that at least one length of pipe extends beneath each crypt. The pipes are connected to inlet and outlet manifolds at each end, and the manifolds in turn are connected to vertical stand pipes at a distance from the crypt array, for creating air flow through the drainage system and venting any decomposition gases. The fill material beneath the crypts is of a porous nature to permit liquids and gases to drain downwardly, while the porous pipes provide an escape path for gases to the exit stand pipe. The fill material beneath the crypts may be birds eye gravel, for example. A different, non-porous fill material is provided in the gaps between adjacent crypts, such as sand, to prevent gases from escaping upwardly in the cemetery area.

[0009] According to another aspect of the present invention, an interment method is provided, which comprises the steps of:

[0010] burying at least one lawn crypt comprising a container and a lid to a predetermined depth; and

[0011] covering the lid of the lawn crypt with at least one layer of covering material, the covering material comprising artificial turf.

[0012] The artificial turf layer may be secured directly on top of the lawn crypt, in which case the crypt need only be buried to a depth such that the lid of the crypt is at grade level. Alternatively, a second layer of fill material may be placed on top of the crypt lid, and the layer of artificial turf is then laid on top of the fill material. In an exemplary embodiment, a hole is dug in the earth to a predetermined depth, and a layer of porous fill material is placed into the hole prior to burial of the lawn crypt.

[0013] The method may comprise burying a plurality of lawn crypts in an array comprising a series of rows of lawn crypts arranged side-by-side in each row with gaps between each adjacent pair of lawn crypts in each row and similar dimension gaps between each adjacent row of crypts. A non-porous fill material is then placed into all of the gaps so as to completely fill the gaps, and a layer of artificial turf is secured over the array of crypts.

[0014] At each interment, the artificial turf is cut around the lid of the lawn crypt at the burial site, and the lid and cut section of turf are then lifted off the crypt. The casket is then placed into the crypt, and the lid and turf are replaced over the crypt. The turf is adhered around the periphery of the lid by a suitable bonding material such as double sided adhesive tape of the type used in carpet laying. A section of turf over the lid may be cut out to allow installation of a suitable grave marker, such as a vertical headstone which is supported in a suitable holder on the lid, or a horizontal marker laid into a receiving recess on the lid. The turf is then suitably stuck down or bonded to the lid around the periphery of the cut out.

[0015] It can be seen that the lawn crypt system and interment method of this invention is a considerable improvement over the conventional prior art arrangement. The crypts do not have to be buried as deeply as in an earth covered system, so that the hole for receiving one or more crypts only needs to be deep enough to position the crypt lids at grade level, rather than 12 to 18 inches below grade level. The artificial turf requires much less maintenance than grass, with no mowing, and no watering which could cause water damage to grave markers or headstones. There will also be significant cost savings for each interment, with no heavy digging equipment required before and after the interment, as is standard in conventional cemeteries.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0016] The present invention will be better understood from the following detailed description of an exemplary embodiment of the invention, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which like reference numerals refer to like parts and in which:

[0017] FIG. 1 is a plan view of a lawn crypt system according to an exemplary embodiment of the invention, with an associated venting system;

[0018] FIG. 2 is an enlarged sectional view taken on line 2-2 of FIG. 1;

[0019] FIG. 3 is a section view taken on line 3-3 of FIG. 2;

[0020] FIG. 4 is a view similar to the upper portion of FIG. 2, showing the cutting of the top cover around a single burial vault;

[0021] FIG. 5 is a similar view showing lifting of the lid and top cover to expose the vault;

[0022] FIG. 6 is a view similar to FIG. 2, with a casket in place and the lid replaced; and

[0023] FIG. 7 is a view similar to a portion of FIG. 3, showing a marker panel inset in the crypt lid and cover.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0024] FIGS. 1 to 3 of the drawings illustrate a lawn crypt system according to an exemplary embodiment of the invention, while FIGS. 4 to 7 illustrate an interment method using this system. The illustrated system is for a multiple burial site with a plurality of lawn crypts 10, but it will be understood that the same system may be applied to a single or family burial site, such as a family estate containing one or two crypts. Additionally, the drawings illustrate single crypts each designed to contain one casket. However, it will be understood that some or all of the crypts may be double lawn crypts for containing two caskets, or even larger crypts for containing more than two caskets, such as the multiple level crypt as described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,746,030 of Sannipoli, the contents of which are incorporated herein by reference. The crypts are of concrete or other sufficiently strong, water resistant and durable material.

[0025] The lawn crypt system of FIGS. 1 to 3 comprises a plurality of single or double depth crypts 10, or a mixture of single and double depth crypts, buried in a single-hole 12 dug into the earth 14 to a predetermined depth, and arranged in an array of rows of crypts arranged side-by-side in each row. A layer 15 of porous fill material such as gravel is placed into the bottom of the hole 12 before lowering in the crypts 10. The depth of the hole is arranged such that the lids 16 of the crypts 10 are substantially at grade level 18 when installed.

[0026] A suitable drainage system 20 for liquids and gases may be embedded in the gravel layer 15 prior to placement of the crypts 10. The system 20 comprises a series of perforated pipes 22, each pipe running under a line of crypts 10 as indicated in FIG. 1. Opposite ends of each pipe 22 are connected to first and second inlet/outlet pipes 23,24 running along opposite ends of the array. Vertical stand pipes 25,26 of at least ten feet in height are connected to the end of each pipe 23,24 at a distance from the array of lawn crypts, for allowing venting of gases.

[0027] Each crypt has two spaced drain holes 28 in its base 30, and typical casket risers 32 are also provided on the base. In the case of a double depth lawn crypt, a suitable panel will be positioned approximately half way up the crypt for supporting a second casket, as described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,746,030 cited above. A sealing gasket 34 of rubber or the like is provided between the upper end of the casket walls and the lid 16, for preventing or limiting leakage of gases upwardly out of the crypt in the cemetery area.

[0028] The crypts are positioned with a small gap 35 of the order of half an inch between adjacent crypts in each row and a similar size gap between adjacent rows of crypts, as indicated in FIGS. 2 and 3. The gap 35 is filled with a non-porous fill material 36 such as sand, to further limit upward escape of any gas resulting from decomposition. A single layer 38 of artificial turf or other man-made covering material is placed on top of the array of crypts so as to cover the lids of all of the crypts. The covering material may be a sheet or layer of any artificial covering material, such as artificial grass, sand, pebbles, and the like. However, in the exemplary embodiment, the material is artificial turf. The turf layer 38 may be adhered to the underlying crypt lids around its entire periphery by a suitable bonding material, such as double sided adhesive tape 40 as is commonly used in carpet laying.

[0029] Although in the illustrated embodiment the artificial turf layer 38 is secured directly on top of the crypt lids 16, in an alternative embodiment a layer of fill material may be first placed on top of the entire crypt array, and the artificial turf is then placed on top of the fill layer. The fill material layer may have a depth of the order of 12 inches. In this case, the initial hole 12 will be dug to a suitable depth to accommodate the additional depth of fill layer, such that the top of the upper fill layer is substantially at grade level.

[0030] Instead of sealing gasket 40, each lid 16 may be permanently secured to the upper end of the crypt after the final interment by a suitable non porous bonding material, to further deter any escape of gases in an upward direction. This helps to ensure that any such gases will be directed along the pipes 22 and one of the pipes 23,24 to the outlet stand pipe.

[0031] Although a multiple crypt array is illustrated in FIGS. 1 to 3, the same system may be applied to a single or double crypt in a family estate. In this case, the crypt is buried inside an enclosure or outer building comprising the family estate. Instead of burying the crypt to a level of 12 to 18 inches below grade level, the crypt in this case is buried such that the lid is substantially at grade level, and a layer of artificial turf is placed over the lid and adhered to the lid by double sided tape around its periphery, for example. The lawn crypt system may therefore be applied to a single grave site or multiple grave sites.

[0032] FIGS. 4 to 7 illustrate an interment method using the system of FIGS. 1 to 3. First, the artificial turf layer is cut around the periphery of the lid at the grave site, as indicated in FIG. 4, using a suitable cutting tool or blade 42, for example of the type used in carpet laying. Markers may be provided to identify each grave site so that the appropriate cutting position can be determined readily. Subsequently, a suitable lifting device is used to lift both the lid 16 and the cut portion 44 of artificial turf off the crypt 10, as indicated in FIG. 5. A casket 45 is then placed into the crypt 10, and the lid and turf portion 44 are replaced, as indicated in FIG. 6. The cut portion 44 of the artificial turf layer and the surrounding cut edges 46 of the remaining turf layer are then suitably bonded or stuck down securely, using a suitable bonding material such as double sided adhesive tape 48 of the type used in carpet laying.

[0033] After the casket has been interred and the lid and covering layer of artificial turf have been replaced, a suitable upright or horizontal grave marker may be installed at the site immediately after the burial. If the lawn crypt uses horizontal markers, the lids 16 will each have a rectangular recess 50 for receiving a marker 52. The recess will be of suitable dimensions, such as 17 inches by 29 inches, although the dimensions may be different in other cases. In order to install the marker, a cut is made in the artificial turf around the underlying marker recess, and the cut portion of artificial turf is removed to expose the recess. The marker 52 is then placed into the recess. If necessary, the cut edges of turf surrounding the marker may be stuck down in the manner described above, prior to placing the marker. A similar procedure will be followed for installing an upright headstone. In this case, the lid 16 will have a suitable holder for the lower end of the headstone, for example as described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,243,997 of Sannipoli, the contents of which are incorporated herein by reference. In this case, the turf will be cut around the periphery of the vertical headstone holder, and the headstone will be installed.

[0034] The method and system described above has many advantages over existing, conventional cemetery systems, in which each casket or crypt is buried at some depth in the earth with earth and grass covering the grave site. First, costs of both burial and cemetery maintenance are significantly reduced. Since the lawn crypts are covered with artificial turf or other artificial material, rather than grass, maintenance costs of mowing and watering are completely eliminated. Second, heavy digging equipment is only needed when the crypts are initially buried, and not at subsequent interments. All that is needed in order to prepare for an interment is to cut around the turf at the appropriate burial site and to remove the lid and cut portion of artificial turf. All that is required after the interment is to replace the lid and cut turf portion and to stick down the edges of the turf around the site. The grave marker can be set immediately, rather than having to wait until earth has been replaced to cover the crypt.

[0035] This invention also solves the problems of burials in cold climates or in winter, where the earth may be frozen, making digging to expose a grave site extremely difficult or impossible. In such situations, heat blankets are sometimes needed to thaw the ground and permit burial to take place. The artificial turf covering layer in the system of this invention completely avoids such problems. The lawn crypts can be buried during warmer weather, and readily exposed when needed, whether summer or winter. The artificial turf layer can be readily replaced as necessary, and any damaged portions can also be simply cut out and replaced as appropriate. The need to drive heavy digging equipment over the cemetery before and after each burial, which sometimes damages the grass in a conventional cemetery, is completely eliminated in this invention, since the only major digging necessary is on construction of the cemetery when a single hole is dug and all the lawn crypts are buried and covered with the single artificial turf layer, so that they are ready for all subsequent interments. Although primarily intended for a cemetery having multiple, side-by-side single or double burial sites, the system is also useful for single burial sites within family estates, for example, as described above, making burials in such estates easier and more convenient.

[0036] Although an exemplary embodiment of the invention has been described above by way of example only, it will be understood by those skilled in the field that modifications may be made to the disclosed embodiment without departing from the scope of the invention, which is defined by the appended claims.