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Dig a Grave in your Front Yard for Outdoor Halloween Decoration

Updated on May 17, 2015

Spook those trick or treaters out of their costumes!

Many years ago, I did something incredibly fun for Halloween, especially outdoor decorations. One year, I had a great idea that came together perfectly! Every parent who came complimented me, and the children were suitably spooked. I made a whole scene in my front lawn. It was an unearthed grave. My father helped build a coffin out of Styrofoam boards, we made a headstone, and had a ceramic skull that was much more realistic looking than the normal plastic ones.

We also set some shop lights for dramatic lighting. It was incredibly eerie. I'm going to highlight the major points of digging a grave in your yard just right!

Photo by: Joe Mabel

Digging the actual grave

Yes, you will have to ruin a fairly large part of your lawn. Dig the Grave about 6 feet long by 3 or 4 feet wide. If you are going for a full graveyard, try to make it look professional like the picture above.

Me, I was going for unearthed grave in the front yard, not professional at all and a bit messy. It seemed more real to me, because everyone knows that the chances of you having a graveyard in suburban America (Tribal burial mounds are everywhere though - Poltergeist reference) are unlikely and I hope that transferred to my visitors on Halloween.

So you will need a shovel, hopefully one with a long handle. I will explain why in just a sec.

When you dig the dirt, try to put it in a large, pyramid-like mound next to the grave. I felt that looked "just right" when I did it, and it actually makes cleanup easier later.

Photo by: Hummingbird 88

Why a long handled shovel or two?

Halloween Mood lighting

When selecting your shovel, try to make sure it is a plain wooden handle, no funny colors. Old and weathered is best, if you have one at home. Consider getting a fog machine.

The reason for the long handled shoves is very simple really. They cast really impressive and creepy shadows when you place a shop light behind them. Remember that pile of dirt? Stick the shovel in the dirt pile you made, like you just found what you wanted and were dragging it out of the grave. You can drag your skeleton or coffin from the grave nearby for great effect.

Now, I was going for the desecrated grave look, so I placed my shop light in plain sight, suitably low to the ground to create longer shadows. Hopefully you can cast the shadows right up onto the side of your house, depending on where you placed your grave.

Unearthed Human Bones
Unearthed Human Bones

Unearthing the skeleton

As I said before, we had a coffin made of styrofoam sheets, so we placed it nearby with a ceramic skull.

Then, we rubbed some dirt on the skull, outside the coffin, and inside the coffin (old coffins leak, I suppose).

Finally, I dirtied up my last piece of styrofoam and cut it into a rough shape of a headstone. Remember, this is supposed to be a long lost body or grave - so be ROUGH with it, no nice neat cuts. I then scratched an "IX" into it, because it just felt right to me. Then I added more fresh dirt.

I did this the day of Halloween, on sudden inspiration. I think that added to the effect with the "fresh dirt" smell everyone is familiar with.

Photo by: Bill Olen


Props set the scene. No one will be suitably spooked if you don't set the scene just right. Imagine a movie scene without any props. That is what your yard will look like without something to set the tone. People will ask why you dug a hole in your lawn if you don't set it up right.

Boo! - How is your Halloween season going?

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    • CaztyBon profile image

      CaztyBon 4 years ago

      I love what you did!! This must have scared the kids!! Great writing

    • profile image

      ArtbyMAR 4 years ago

      I LOVE Halloween and this is such an awesome and unique idea! Sure my husband would have a fit if I dug a grave in the front yard but I have mostly weeds anyhow!

    • tellers profile image

      tellers 4 years ago

      Wow, I am so impressed with your creativity... and your energy!

    • Grifts profile image

      Devin Gustus 4 years ago

      @burntchestnut: Halloween is the biggest for me. Thanksgiving we have at a relatives house, nothing amazing, except for the massive amounts of food. Christmas is an all day outing which starts at our house, opening presents. We usually visit my mother, father, and my wife's family. It's kind of like bar-hopping, except with presents instead of beer.

    • profile image

      burntchestnut 4 years ago

      Love it! What will you do for Thanksgiving and Christmas?

    • ghoststorylover profile image

      ghoststorylover 4 years ago

      I love this idea!