Water pouring down with the sunshine, the delicious freedom of being invisibly unclothed in the fresh air, birdsong mingling with a breeze on the leaves.... An outdoor shower is the next best thing to having a private waterfall. An outdoor tub is a lot less fuss than a pool or spa. Either project will pay for itself many times over in sheer unmitigated bliss.
a simple outdoor shower
Outdoor showers needn’t be complicated or costly. You can install a solar camping shower in a private spot. You can make a cut in a hula hoop, slip two shower curtains onto it, hang it from a tree limb and have an instant private spot. You’ll still get the lovely experience and the ability to avoid bringing garden muck indoors.
You’ll need proper drainage. Choose a location where the water will flow away from your foundation. Test the permeability of the soil by dumping a large bucket of water there; if you still have a puddle after five minutes, you need to build a drain.
A dry well—a four-foot-deep pit filled with gravel and stone—is effective but labor-intensive and may be regulated under building codes, but once you’ve established a dry well, you’re free to build your shower floor from pretty native stones or vintage brick.
A simpler choice is a shower pan connected to a hose that directs your runoff to your garden, or to a receptacle that can be taken there. If you don’t have a slope in the right spot, you may need to dig a slanted trench for the pipe. Shower pans are available in all sorts of materials, at all sorts of price points.
A step up from the solar camping bag idea is an outdoor shower kit. These, too, come in all sorts of styles, from solar-heated with a water reservoir built in to those that connect to your indoor taps.
You can also purchase a privacy screen, or build your own. Bamboo fencing is beautiful, lightweight, and waterproof. Add a few solar lights, strategically located, and you’re ready to shower under the stars. Now that’s living.
a relaxing tub
Start with an old bathtub or large stock tank from an agricultural supply store—meant for watering cows and horses, it’s easy to fill, drain, or fit with a cover. You can leave it cool for a refreshing dip, or add propane, wood, or solar heating. A stock tank with an insulated solar cover may be plenty warm for a relaxing soak.
You’ll want to install on a firm, level spot, of course. You can wrap the outside in any material that suits your design sense for a finished look.
Add a dash of Epsom salts as desired, a handy patio table for snacks and drinks, and ahhhh the evening away.