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Project Cultivate

Enhancing the natural environment of our historical cemetery sites

The Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust is committed to providing a welcoming environment for our communities, which is why we’ve embarked on a program of works to enhance the natural surrounds at our historical sites.

Melbourne General Cemetery - Gatehouse

Known as Project Cultivate, the project aims to re-imagine horticultural possibilities at our sites in a way that supports the unique needs of our heritage locations, community and environment.

Planting locally native plants and grasses within our cemeteries, for example, will revitalise the current landscape in a way that complements and respects existing graves, pathways and monuments. It will also provide for a beautiful biodiverse environment which can be sustainably maintained.

Linum Marginale flowers

Pilot at Melbourne General Cemetery to inform future vision

Through Project Cultivate, we aim to enhance the visitor experience as well as the care of our heritage sites. An exploratory pilot at Melbourne General Cemetery will support these objectives and inform our future vision. Importantly, the pilot will allow us to explore and establish an understanding of community expectations and drive meaningful conversations about the environment.

Visitors can continue to access Melbourne General Cemetery throughout the pilot and will be provided with detours for any temporary path closures while works are underway.

Exploring the advantages of locally native plants and grasses

Equipped to cope with the climate now and into the future, the diverse array of locally native plants selected for Project Cultivate are expected to deliver a number of benefits, including:

  • Improved soil quality and reduction in runoff
  • Reduced reliance on herbicide to manage invasive weed species
  • Increased biodiversity with an expected increase in insects, birds, lizards, and more
  • Increased ground/soil coverage which will mitigate the heat island effect of the site
  • Making Melbourne General Cemetery’s natural environment more resilient to the effects of climate change

In addition to the advantages above, the sustainability of these plants and grasses will help to maintain Melbourne General Cemetery’s respectful atmosphere for reflection in perpetuity.

What to expect

The pilot at Melbourne General Cemetery will begin by improving existing soil quality through the application of organic mulch. Next, we will plant around 127,000 carefully selected locally native grasses, wildflowers and groundcovers.

The outcome of this planting will be a developing native grassland, of a kind becoming rarer and rarer in Victoria today. In this way, Melbourne General Cemetery has a unique opportunity to create and protect a large-scale endangered ecosystem in the heart of the city, for all to enjoy.

Horticultural works will take place from approximately May to November 2023 from 7am to 4pm, Monday to Thursday. As indicated, visitors can continue to access the cemetery and will be provided with detours in the event of temporary path closures.

Please be aware that restoration of pathways, monuments or facilities are not in scope for Project Cultivate, which is focused on the horticultural elements of sites.

Have your say

In addition to conducting the pilot planting at Melbourne General Cemetery, SMCT is undertaking longitudinal research to measure public sentiment regarding the horticultural future of Victorian cemeteries.

We want to know how our communities want to see, feel, visit and experience our historical cemetery spaces and will use this research to guide our long-term planning. We encourage you to have your say and complete the survey.

Project Cultivate Online Survey

Click the link below to complete the survey and have your say

For more information, please contact us at

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