Every year, I make a DIY Halloween graveyard in my front yard which the kids absolutely love! Between the lighting, the fog, and these graveyard decorations, creating a yard haunt is a fun (and slightly scary) way to celebrate the holiday.
Can I just say…Halloween is my favorite holiday. And I think this is why. I LOVE creating my own Halloween graveyard.
I have one in my front yard every year at Halloween, and everyone in my neighborhood knows it. They start driving by around the end of September to see what this year’s version will look like. And I don’t like to disappoint!!
Putting together a Halloween cemetery does take a little work but I think it is worth it…and so do all the kids in my area 🙂
Having done this for a number of years now, I have some decorations that work really well for creating an awesome yard haunt, so I thought I would share what I do.
Keep reading to find out my spooky Halloween graveyard ideas.
Install Halloween Tombstones
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This is the obvious part of a Halloween yard haunt…gravestones are required!
For the best effect, try to buy (or make) tombstones* of different sizes and shapes.
I have to admit that I buy mine. They are so inexpensive and I’m usually crunched for time, so I have never tried to make them.
However if you want to create your own DIY tombstones, check out this article and video for the tutorial.
Then place them randomly around the yard, some at odd angles, to make it look like your cemetery is very old and neglected.
This is one time when not having cut your lawn for a couple of weeks may be a benefit…the longer grass adds to the neglected feeling.
Putting your Halloween gravestones in the garden helps to make them feel like they have always been there.
Even during the day, they look like they are a part of the landscape.
Having some of your Halloween decor look like it is meant to be a part of your yard always makes it a little more interesting because people aren’t expecting it to be there.
And if you have trouble keeping your gravestones standing, try our hack for securing Halloween tombstones.
Add Spooky Lighting
Lighting is very important to add that spooky vibe, and make your Halloween graveyard visible at night.
I find that cool colored spotlights like blue and green work well to highlight tombstones and skeletons.
The newer variety of LED spotlights* let you change the color of the light to match your decor. So you don’t have to keep buying different colored bulbs.
Hang orange string lights in trees and along fences and walkways so that everyone knows where they are supposed to walk.
Since I’m such a fanatic about lighting, I could go on and on about lighting.
If you’re interested in reading more, you can find out how to set up Halloween outdoor lighting HERE.
Create Some Fog
The next one of my Halloween yard ideas is to add fog.
It’s one of the best ways to create a graveyard atmosphere…it just isn’t as spooky without it!
And with these inexpensive fog machines* , it is really easy to do.
However, there is a trick to making thick fog that actually stays on the ground…find out how to make great Halloween cemetery fog HERE.
Add A Halloween Cemetery Archway Entrance
The next one of my Halloween graveyard ideas is to make sure there’s a defined entrance. And an archway definitely does that!
To create a Halloween cemetery archway entrance, you can take advantage of what you already have, buy something specifically for Halloween or make your own.
Option 1 | Light An Arbor
If you happen to have an arbor in your front yard (like I do), then you have a ready-made archway entrance for your graveyard.
Just add some lighting and you’re all set. You can find out more about my Halloween outdoor lighting effects HERE.
Of course, if you don’t have an arbor in your front yard, you could buy an inexpensive one like this* (usually meant for weddings) and add some graveyard decorations to it.
Option 2 | Buy a Halloween Cemetery Archway Entrance
You can purchase archways that are meant for Halloween cemeteries, like this one.
Update: Unfortunately, this archway is no longer available but I have found a couple of similar ones that you might like:
- The Grim Reaper Archway*
- Or if you have a big budget, this iron Halloween cemetery archway* is awesome!
Option 3 | Make a DIY Halloween Cemetery Arch
Finally, if you have the time, you can make your own DIY Halloween cemetery entrance with these instructions available at instructables.com.
Option 4 | Repurpose a Metal Garden Arbor
If you have a metal arbor somewhere else in your garden (or you want to add one), you can use it as your Halloween graveyard entrance temporarily.
I bought this one* and put it up for my Halloween display.
Then moved it into the backyard where it looks beautiful in my garden.
Make DIY Halloween Pillars
If you don’t want to go all out creating an archway for your Halloween cemetery entrance, DIY Halloween pillars are another option that are a little easier to construct.
I made mine with a wood frame wrapped in a plastic scene setter with a brick pattern*. Get my step-by-step Halloween cemetery columns tutorial HERE.
But if you prefer a more 3-D look to the bricks, try out this tutorial for making DIY Halloween cemetery columns using styrofoam.
Create A Halloween Graveyard Fence
I think installing a Halloween fence around your graveyard is a must.
It prevents people from walking through your cemetery, and potentially tripping on the wires that you most likely have scattered around to connect the lighting.
When it comes to putting up a Halloween fence, there are a few options to choose from.
Option 1 | Make a DIY Cemetery Fence
The most economical option for Halloween fences is to make your own.
It takes a little bit of time, but that way you can fit them exactly to your space. And they’re much less expensive than the pre-made Halloween fences.
Option 2 | Buy a Made-For-Halloween Fence
If you don’t want to spend the time to make a Halloween fence, this option may be the one for you: Buy one that is specifically made for Halloween, like this one*.
For small spaces (or if you just want to use it as a prop like I did above), this is a great option.
But these store-bought fences can get really expensive if you actually want to use it for more than just a prop.
And most of them don’t stand up very well on their own.
Option 3 | Use Garden Edging
My third Halloween fence option is a little unconventional…this garden edging*.
You get a lot more for your money and it’s easier to install than a traditional store-bought Halloween fence.
Plus it’s not as much work as making a DIY Halloween fence from scratch.
Since garden edging isn’t very tall, I always string lights through it so that people can see where it is.
Highlighting it with floodlights helps to make it more visible, too.
Create Skeleton Halloween Scenes
Once you have the Halloween cemetery foundation in place, it’s time to start adding the creepy Halloween decorations!
Prop a skeleton* up against one of the tombstones to make it look like he escaped his grave.
I also like to use real garden furniture and accessories in my graveyard displays.
Like this vintage-look garden bench that makes the perfect seat for a skeleton.
Scatter Skeleton Bones
Skeleton bones also make great Halloween decorations for outside.
Scatter some of them randomly around your Halloween cemetery. 5 or 6 bones in each “bone location” creates a noticeable scene.
I keep them close to the tombstones which makes it looks like they’ve risen from the grave.
I also like to position skeleton hands to make it look like someone is trying to escape from their grave. Sometimes it’s the little details that count 🙂
Hang A “Welcome” Sign
A sign lets people know they are entering your cemetery and gives you lots of opportunity for adding graveyard decor. Hanging it in front of a light fixture makes sure that everyone can see it!
You can also have a custom banner* made. Then you can use whatever wording you want…and they come with pre-made holes so they are easy to hang.
These banners are not very expensive and add a custom touch.
Signs are also a great way to add some interest to your cemetery. I place this one on the edge of my yard so that the “Graveyard” arrow is pointing in the right direction.
Use At Least One Ghost
Every Halloween graveyard needs at least one ghost!
I like to hang them in places that are somewhat hidden so they blend in with the scenery.
Then add some uplighting.
Since ghosts are white, the lights reflect off of them and really make them stand out.
How to Make DIY Halloween Yard Ghosts
Fortunately, ghosts are pretty easy to make.
Here’s what you need:
Draw eyes and a round mouth on the styrofoam with a black marker.
Drape the creepy cloth over the styrofoam.
Screw the hook into the top of the styrofoam. (If it doesn’t stay very well, add some glue to the hole.)
Then hang him where you want him!
Of course if you don’t want to DIY a ghost, they are usually very inexpensive to buy (like this one*).
Spider Web and Creepy Cloth
The next one of my Halloween graveyard ideas helps to make your cemetery look neglected.
Creepy cloth* is great for draping over fences, or arbors and hanging from trees. If people have to walk through it, it almost feels like walking through spider webs.
It also adds some mystery by blocking part of the view.
With lights at night, white creepy cloth* looks like it is glowing and definitely adds some spookiness to your Halloween cemetery.
You can also use stretchy spider webs* across tombstones and bushes…just make sure to stretch it out enough that it actually looks like a spider web.
Drape Some Chains
Chains are another easy, inexpensive way to add to your creepy outdoor Halloween decorations.
Drape them over the fence, or some of the larger tombstones. If you’re worried about the weight, you can also use fake plastic chains* that are made to be used as Halloween decorations.
In this case, the chain falls over the fence and the cemetery sign and makes it look like the place is falling down.
Add Rats, Bats, Mice, Crows, Spiders and Other Spooky Critters
Perching your animal props where you might normally find them almost makes them look real. Which I think makes it a little spookier.
Like sitting a fake crow on top of a tombstone. Wrap picture wire around its feet and stick it into the styrofoam to make the bird stay in place.
Or grouping different sized birds on a Halloween cemetery fence.
Or setting a plastic rat in the middle of your Halloween graveyard somewhere that people will notice him.
Or hanging bats from a tree.
Just make sure the props are positioned where people can find them, and are big enough for people to be able to see in the dark, like these skeleton flamingos*.
Put Out Pumpkins
Pumpkins are another Halloween staple that I like to include in my Halloween cemetery.
Whether you use real ones or plastic ones, leaning them up against a tombstone is an easy way to include them.
Putting them out in groups of two or three, mixed in with a skull or two makes them look like they belong.
Playing Halloween cemetery sounds on a looping tape or CD will automatically make your graveyard seem scary.
For my graveyard, I like the Raven’s Hollow track from Midnight Syndicate’s Halloween Music Collection*. It sounds like you are outdoors in the middle of a forest somewhere. There are other options on the CD that are good, mostly organ or scary-music type soundtracks.
The haunted house sound effects are also pretty good in this Halloween Haunted House album* if you want more traditional haunted house type sounds (witches cackling, doors creaking, etc.)
Well, that’s how I put my annual Halloween graveyard together. Of course you are always free to add as many props and animated ghosts, skeletons, or ghouls as you can afford and have space for. It’s hard to go too over the top with a Halloween cemetery!
Other Halloween Ideas You Might Like
- Halloween Outdoor Lighting Ideas: 18 Spooky Ways To Light Your Yard
- Halloween Fog Machine Ideas: How To Make Low Lying Fog
- Crows Nest DIY Halloween Wreath