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Discussion Starter #1
So, this will be my first year putting out a yard display. How does everyone arrange their headstones? Random? Haphazard? Neat rows and columns? (And, if so, what spacing do you use?)

This year, I'm planning on having about 11 tombstones and a full size toe pincher (all built...not all painted yet). I've got about 35' between the front of the house and the sidewalk. They're all static props and I'd like to have the cemetery fence done but that's not likely with all I've still got to do (but don't want them walking through the cemetery itself...wires, et. al.)

I'm in analysis paralysis right now and completely over thinking it every which way.

Thx for any hints, suggestions, things to watch out for or consider!
 

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Caretaker of Eerie Manor
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IMO, there is no right or wrong way. Keep spacing consistent with real gravestones, front to back. There is something called forced perspective, where you place some of the smaller stones in the back and the taller ones in front. It makes the space look bigger/deeper than it really is. Here are a couple layouts we've used over the years.














 

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Rutherford Manor Haunt
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Love your pics jdubb, all look fantastic!

I agree set them up with realistic spacing to an actual cemetery. I mix sizes as well, but we do have a small, oddly shaped front yard so we place one very large one at the back, and back light the area. We are adding another 3-4 this year so I will have to crowd them a bit. Without a fence maybe set the cemetery back a bit to keep people from wandering though it? Shame to do that though as you don't want them to miss the detail.
 

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Imitation Imagineer
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In addition to the previous notes, I think some elements of stone placement are dictated by overall space (not only depth, but width, and number of stones for the space), and other elements involved (eg. projections, animated props, etc). However, for me, the single biggest determining factor of placement has historically been dictated by lights that I need to hide, and elements that have to be lit. :)

I guess what I'm attempting to say (and likely failing) is that daytime setup and spacing is one thing, but insuring that it can all be effectively lit while not having a yard full of light stakes in full view is an element to be considered.

So, for me, the lineup has been floodlights behind cemetery columns illuminating the first row(ish) of stones, then the next set of lights is hidden behind those stones, rinse and repeat...
 

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I change it around every year, but basically like that. Though it seems kind of empty in places.

This year I'm going to shrink the area a bit, utilize more depth like jdubbya said above, and add a small corn field scene on the left with bundled stocks and my scarecrows. Can't wait to start playing around with it in a couple weeks.
 

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As I have an older type western theme, my placement is a little more random - like the cemeteries of the period. You got planted pretty much wherever there was room, unless you were a wealthy person that could afford "plot" boundries like a fence.
HM
 

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PepsiSteve ---lots of great ideas & suggestions on tombstone layout. I don't have much to add on that BUT I do have a comment on not getting up a fence. I learned the very hard way to skip putting up even some Halloween caution tape as a barrier was a mistake that I will not repeat again. Kids & adults would not stay on the sidewalk & they'd run into the yard to start touching stuff. Some kids would even start hitting the inflatables or kicking them. Luckily no one tripped on electric cords or tie downs. I picked this tape up from a Dollar Store along with some garden hooks. It worked well to mark the boundary.

Please be sure to post pics of your graveyard as I bet it will look great.

Halloweencat.jpg
 

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I like the way everyone places and spaces their stones. My yard is 75 feet across and each year I try something different to make it look more realistic. Spacing is important though to at least give it that authentic look. This year I'll try something new because I will have more lighting to go in the yard. I want to highlight more of the animated props.
 

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Here to burgle your turts
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There is something called forced perspective, where you place some of the smaller stones in the back and the taller ones in front. It makes the space look bigger/deeper than it really is.
I'm a Disneyland nut so I'm kicking myself for never even considering forced perspective. The whole park is built around that idea.

Everyone's photos look amazing!

We just started adding tombstones to the yard a couple years back. My wife prefers them more even like a real modern cemetery, but I like 'em a little more scattered. She generally wins. But I think if you've got a huge yard and not enough tombstones to comfortably fill it, you're better off doing little clusters rather than having a huge space between each one just to keep things even.
 

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There is no right or wrong.

Place your props in whatever fashion suits you. Try different things.
Where do you want it viewed from? What is the effect you're after?
Put it out here and see how it looks. You can always adjust.

I've got stones from ground level to eight footers. Store-bought to
handmade.

We're a walking haunted trail. So I like them as "visible" from the
path. But that fits my needs. May not be your plan at all.

So the answer is to do your plan. See what fits your needs.
 

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I put mine spaced out approximately like a real cemetery, in nice neat rows and columns. I'm insane, so I need to do it that way. I use stakes and strings to lay out the first row, then use stakes/strings in the opposite direction to lay out the columns. If I had a sheet of 4'x8' luan or paneling or pegboard or better yet--styrofoam, I could skip the measuring and put one grave at each corner, then keep moving the board. I have that idea every year, but I never seem to have that sheet of paneling laying around.

We're blessed to have a huge front yard where I can lay out over 70 grave plots plus a private plot where I put the largest stone.
 

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I agree that there is no right or wrong way to lay them out. For me, I like to place them haphazardly in my cemetery setting. I do it because I think it lends itself to the creepiness of the scene and makes the eye scan the entire area. I have also mixed the stones with store bought and self-made, including some cross-type markers I made out of old pallet boards.

The picture doesn't really do it justice, but here's a pic of what I've done the last couple of years:
photo2.JPG

This year I am moving that scene to another area of my yard and adding a fence, a coffin-breaker, and another coffin placed on a table so I needed more room!
 

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Discussion Starter #15
The point about lighting is well taken especially since I am only going to have it out on Halloween night (too paranoid that somebody will damage or mess around with it...one year we left the candy bowl out and within minutes they had taken all of the candy AND the bowl...). But, I think I'll try a dry-run a few nights before hand with some of the stones to test out lighting (I'll be working against 3 street lights).

Also, good point about the fence - if I don't get it done, I'll definitely string up some caution tape or something.

Thanks, everybody!
 

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Seer of All
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I like mine to be very random and haphazard, so it looks as though it grew over years and not in just one afternoon. No even rows or spaces, some crowding, some stones tilted, as if they're about to fall over with age; I like the old abandoned look.

I tried the forced perspective approach one year but it just looked too, well,... forced! Unless the sizes are graduated to an exact scale, it just looks kinda like your school group picture - tall kids in the back, short kids in the front. There's just more math than I was willing to do. Disney does an excellent job of it though!
 
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