Project Spotlight: Oakdale Cemetery Commemoration

Blog Category: Landscaping & Maintenance
September 15, 2021 by Kim Rieber, Account Manager/Design Team Leader

SERVICE: Landscape Design & Installation
LOCATION: Adel, Iowa

The Oakdale Cemetery, located in Adel, Iowa, was beginning to undergo an overall rejuvenation, and they wanted to create something to honor veterans at their Memorial Day ceremonies. A longstanding resident of Adel was a major participant and donor in the rejuvenation; this donor came to the Wright Outdoor Solutions team to see if we would be able to help bring their vision for the project to life.

We are no stranger to working with the cemetery. Our team previously worked on the Mausoleum, adding retaining walls to hold grade and plantings to dress it up. We also planted a living screen on the north end of the cemetery to screen a utility area.

Project Summary

For this project, we helped the client pick out a large stone that would become the home to a veterans memorial plaque. This plaque honored the branches of the military and designated the area as Veterans Plaza—Oakdale Cemetery. Then, we designed the space in preparation for the memorial services to be held on Memorial Day. Our team completed the installation of the plaza memorial stone, grading, installation of the patio, seat walls, steps, a flagstone path, an area for the flagpole, edging, and plants.

It was important to ensure functionality for the ceremony as well as future use and maintenance while paying homage to those that contributed to the project.

Challenges Faced

As a public place with multiple historical elements, there were several challenges to consider throughout the project. It was especially rewarding to be involved in a project that incorporated both new and historical elements blending nicely together to create a beautiful end result for a great cause.

Slope: the slope and drainage in the area of the platform was complex and had many elements we had to work around in bringing the space together.

Pavers: there were two different pavers used in this project, including engraved pavers that were purchased as memorials and used in the fundraising of the project, as well as repurposing the old street pavers from the City of Adel that had been removed as streets were being repaired. The pavers were different sizes so the base material had to be adjusted with each paver installation.

Accessibility: it was important for the space to be accessible for all visitors. We installed a ramp on the side closest to the road, and then incorporated steps on the opposite lower end of the slope.

Space: to ensure the space was equipped to meet the needs of memorial services, we needed to provide adequate room for the Color Guard during the flag ceremony, as well as a place for a podium and speaker to be able to face the majority of the audience in attendance.

Maintenance: for ongoing maintenance, it was important to design the space with room for a lawn mowing crew to mow the cemetery and be able to get in between the existing monuments and our new plaza.

Existing elements: there was an existing flagpole in use that dictated where the paver grade had to be installed.

Sand: Normally when a paver patio is installed, you put the polymeric sand down, sweep it into the joints and water it in to harden the product. In this case, we had engraved brick with black lettering, so each engraved paver had to be brushed out to make sure not one granular of polymeric sand landed in the engraved names. This was done with a soft brush for every single letter of every single engraved brick.

Project Specifics

Plant Material: Plants had to be deer and rabbit tolerant, as well as drought tolerant. There would be minimal plant care once installed. We also wanted the most bloom and color during the Memorial Day services, so bloom time of perennials was taken into consideration. The following perennial varieties were used in the final installation:

  • Prairie dropseed
  • Karl Foerster grasses
  • Barberry ‘Admiration’
  • Creeping phlox
  • Sedum

Hardscape Material: Seat walls around the pavers were built with a free-standing wall stone. A flagstone was used for pathways, which matched the Veterans Memorial stone plaque. Newly-engraved brick that was purchased as a portion of the fundraising for the project was used. The City of Adel street pavers were repurposed as a soldier course around the patio area and also used as bed edging around planting beds.


The entire project was unique and a total group effort. It was an honor to be involved in a project that represented all branches of the military. So many people and organizations contributed to make it happen. We wanted the final design to be considerate of all those involved as well as meet the present and future needs of the cemetery.


Fun Facts

  • A crew of 2-3 members were on the job through the project
  • 320 square feet of paver area
  • 65 square feet of retaining walls