Top Tips for Re-Setting a Leaning Headstone

Changing weather, shifting soil and the passage of time can do a number on a loved one's headstone. Therefore, headstone restoration should be an integral part of a maintenance checklist. However, when the ground on which a monument stands begins to shift excessively, the grave marker will start to lean. Therefore, to prevent a headstone from toppling over, you should re-set it from time to time. That said, re-setting a leaning monument is not the easiest of tasks, but the following tips should help you with the process.

Re-Dig the Hole 

When you see a leaning headstone, there is something wrong with the ground on which it stands. One of the primary causes is soft shifting ground, which does not support the grave marker. Therefore, the only way to understand what is going on below a gravestone is to dig around it gently. The aim is to widen and deepen the existing headstone hole so that you can restore the marker's position. Most importantly, ensure that the edges and walls of the new hole are straight for accurate placement.

Re-Centre a Headstone 

Once you are satisfied with a new hole, you should fill it partially with gravel to achieve a level base. It helps solidify a headstone's position as you centre it in place. If the cause of the leaning is a high water table, the new gravel base should prevent future leaning. However, you must be careful at this stage because you can easily damage a gravestone as you try to centre it in a hole. The best strategy is to use a small crane to move a headstone because most headstones are heavy and lifting might not be an option. Ask someone to help guide a monument to the centre of the hole and only lower a headstone when you are sure it is well-positioned.

Tamp the Hole/Establish Its Vertical 

The last step is to fill the hole around a headstone with loose gravel and dirt to the brim. Keep compressing the fillers until the ground is level and feels firm. Ideally, a monument should stay in position even if you lean on it. However, headstone re-setting is not complete if you do not examine the structure's vertical. Therefore, as you fill the hole, remember to use a plumb bob or spirit level to determine a headstone's straightness. If the vertical looks off, adjust it accordingly before it becomes difficult to move. Stop only when you are sure that a monument is centred, firm and straight.