Outdoor showers are a great way to connect with nature and feel like a kid again. Nothing washes away stress like an outdoor shower under the trees, with only a passing deer or a hummingbird in sight.
Among their many benefits, outdoor showers increase the value of your home and you don’t have to clean your indoor shower all summer and fall. Growing up on the beach, in a family with five siblings covered in sand, I could never understand why my parents didn’t have one. Designing an outdoor shower was my top priority when I moved to Woodstock a few years back. This was by far the most exciting of the many showers I’ve designed. When a cedar tree fell in our yard, causing a power outage for nearly half a weekend, we pulled out a chainsaw and cut the posts of the shower wall.
Our backyard is private, so we needed only a single wall to mount the shower body onto. We dug a deep hole for drainage, put down layers of rock and sand, and slate on top for the finished floor. It was quite a bit of work, but really worth it. The night we finished, my husband insisted I try it—despite the rain—and it was amazing during the sunset with the rain and the stormy sky.
Installing a shower can be very simple, you can run hot and cold water hoses over to a tree or a wooden board that the shower body is mounted on. The best source of water is your home’s plumbing system, which can simply be extended to the exterior and out to the shower. The runoff of shower wastewater, gray water, needs to be channeled to a safe place where it returns to the water table and away from the foundation of the home.
If the soil does not have much sand, you have to dig a dry well and fill it with layers of gravel and sand so the water percolates down into the earth. As far as the structure around the shower, just about anything goes, or you can choose to have no enclosure at all, as in the bamboo shower I designed. I attached a 5-foot bamboo fence to the end posts and used river rock from the nearby stream for the floor. My motto as a designer is keep it simple, use local materials or what you already have. As far as materials and design, you may have a motif in an existing building that you want to extend to the shower. Think about what shapes you are drawn to; it could be curvy or linear. You could incorporate objects you find in nature, an old piece of wood that would make for an interesting design element, for example.
Use your imagination and feel what it would be like to have a shower in your favorite spot in the yard. Beware of sight lines from the second story of the house; or install an overhead arbor with flowering vines. I love using a double showerhead, which is great for two. Also think about what lighting you need for showering at night, which is just heavenly. We used Christmas lights with paper lanterns on a nearby tree. ENJOY!
Use your imagination and feel what it would be like to have a shower in your favorite spot in the yard.
by Laura Angelini