Frequently asked questions

End-of-life planning isn’t easy, we know. We get a lot of questions every day—here are a few of our most common ones.

What does Better Place Forests offer?

Better Place Forests offers a beautiful, natural alternative to traditional cemeteries. We give families a better place to remember their loved ones—and give you peace of mind. Memorial trees belong to your family forever, and can be shared with generations to come. What’s more, every dedicated tree helps protect and sustain the land for generations to come.

How is this different from spreading ashes on my own?

Many of the families we talk to have considered public parks or private properties, but ultimately chose Better Place Forests for peace of mind. We offer permanently marked, easy-to-visit memorials on protected land, and maintain our forests year-round. Our forests include visitor’s centers, pathways, and other amenities so every visit is comfortable and memorable.

Who owns the land?

Better Place Forests owns and maintains the forests and ensures that the land can never be redeveloped.

How does ash spreading work?

By themselves, ashes don’t integrate well with the native soil. We have a proprietary process that involves mixing the ashes with local soil. This way, the ashes can quickly and naturally nourish the trees.

What’s the spreading ceremony?

We know that returning to the earth is important for many people. The ash spreading ceremony is a guided 20-minute service for your family and friends. Ceremonies can be customized to fit your family’s traditions and needs.

What happens during a spreading ceremony?

The ceremony starts in the visitor’s center, where the family can watch a forest steward mix the ashes with local soil—an important step that ensures the ashes won’t harm the trees. The steward will then lead a short service during which the ashes will be spread at your memorial tree. Families can spread the ashes themselves, or have our stewards do it for you.

Can I include pets in my memorial?

Yes! We believe pets are an important part of the family. You can include your pets in your private or family memorial.

What types of trees do you have?

Trees vary by forest—in our first forest, Point Arena, we have a mix of redwood, fir, pine, and tanoak trees. Each of our trees is reviewed by our arborist, who records the tree’s health, height, diameter, and unique qualities.

What’s used to mark a memorial?

Memorial markers are engraved, bronze markers that sit at the base of your tree. Our markers were inspired by the U.S. Geological Survey’s classic location markers, and are grounded by a 3-foot piece of rebar with concrete at the base to prevent it from moving over time.

Tree marker
Do you offer payment plans?

Yes, we offer various plans that can work with your budget. Our goal is for Better Place Forests to be affordable to everyone wanting a natural memorial. If you want to discuss payment plans, let us know. Our advisors will walk you through your options.

Are you opening new forests?

We have plans to open more forests in California within the next 2-3 years.

Can I transfer my tree to one of your newer locations?

Absolutely. You can transfer your memorial to another location, with a full credit of the value of your tree (including special rates), as long as ashes haven’t been spread yet.

What happens when my tree dies?

No matter what your tree’s lifespan is—whether it’s 250 years or 2,000—we’ve got you covered. When your tree eventually dies, we’ll plant a new tree in its place so your legacy continues. Every new tree will be from the same species, and be planted in the same spot as your original tree.

Chose a redwood? Redwoods naturally repopulate—after the original tree dies, new trees will start growing from the same roots.

What happens in the event of a forest fire?

Forest fires are an unfortunate reality, especially in California. That’s why mitigating fire risk is a top priority for us. We only open forests in healthy, low risk areas, and maintain our forests in a way that minimizes risk. If any of our forests are affected by a fire, we’ll restore and repair any damage caused and replant all impacted trees.

Do you also offer cremation?

Not at this time, but our team can help you find trusted local cremation services to contact.

How can I visit the forest?

Just reach out! We’ll schedule a tour for you to see the forest and get a sneak peek at development plans.

Does the forest have set visiting hours?

Yes, so be sure to check your forest’s visiting hours, or contact us to schedule a special visiting time. Let us know when you plan on visiting! That way, we can make sure there are staff at the forest in case you need anything.