Abandoned graveyards are refuges to the wild. The weeds grow sometimes into jungles. Some have been abandoned for decades and have become forested. If you take on the restoration of an abandoned space it is kind to show compassion to its occupants.
When you clean a stone, carefully remove the spiders. Leave the wild growing milkweed, save the monarch eggs from the small plants in the mowing paths and raise and release them.
Be mindful of the creatures of the graveyard. Make friends with the crows. Smile with the grinning grasshopper and maybe leave a little of the wild where there are not stones.
I suggest taking a look around any project you are about to start. Apart from looking at historic plantings that should be saved also look for plants that attract pollinators. If a plant is in the way can it be moved elsewhere? It is good to remember that an alternative to mowing near stones is planting low growing native ground cover. This both protects the stone from breakage caused by landscaping equipment but creates a more natural looking landscape.
Of course ultimately in order to restore a site there will be some landscaping needed but make decisions knowing that we share these places with all kinds of creatures that need to be protected and respected.
Grasshopper on a tarp covering a gravestone at First Parish Burying Ground Newbury, MA.
Neighborhood cat looking for squirrels at Charter Street in Salem, MA.