When it’s been hot and you’ve been very active, outdoor showers are a great way to cool down. After a day at the beach, hiking or playing a sport, an outdoor shower offers the opportunity to relax, scrub down and rinse off. By using a garden shower, you’ll save your bathroom from the grit and grime of the day. And actually, nothing feels better than taking a shower outdoors.
If you love spending time in the water out of doors but can’t afford a spa or a swimming pool, never fear. An outdoor shower is available to people of all budgets. From a rustic outdoor shower to a luxury exterior shower, there are a range of outdoor shower designs to suit everybody.
Just add water
Image source: Urrutia Design
One of the most simple outdoor shower ideas is to connect your hose to your shower head. This will give you an instant exterior shower. The only problem is that the water coming through your shower will always be cold. You will only be able to use your shower during summer months.
If you want to improve on this model, you can. If you would like to add outdoor piping, keep costs down by installing your pipes close to your water supply. You could use bathroom or outdoor taps.
If you link your shower up to your hot water tap, you will be able to use it year round. If you do select to use hot water, take into account the position of your hot water tank. You will use additional hot water if your pipes need to be heated over a long distance. Keep your water temperature at around 55 degrees, as most outdoor showers do not have a temperature valve.
If you are installing your shower close to your house, in a courtyard or near to a building structure, and your water cannot effectively drain away from these structures, ask a plumber to install drainage for you. This will protect your home from damp or water damage which may build up over time. It will also prevent moss build up on your outdoor shower floor.
Image source: Nicholson
If your shower is positioned in your garden, you will need a permeable area so that your grey water can drain away without saturating your garden. By digging a pit and filling it with gravel, stones or pebbles, you will create a permeable area for your water to drain from your backyard shower. This will stop your water sitting on the surface of your soil or lawn as the surface area becomes increasingly saturated.
Use existing outdoor drains
By connecting your shower waste outlet to existing outdoor drains, you will be able to remove your grey water effectively.
Connect to the existing wastewater system
This is the most expensive option and will require the services of a plumber. Your plumber will be able to connect your outdoor shower waste pipe to an already existing waste water system. Although this option may appear expensive at first, it will keep all excess water away from your walls or your home structure.
If you are unsure of the best drainage options for your home, you could always call in a consultant to assist you.
Image source: John Herder Building
If your outdoor shower will be installed close to the walls of your home, you will need to waterproof it. This will prevent any water damage. However, if you install your garden shower in an outdoor area away from your house, you won’t need to waterproof your garden shower.
Image source: Maxa Constructions
When building your outdoor shower, you will need to ensure that it is durable. Using materials which are not vulnerable to the elements will increase the life of your garden shower. Marine grade or structural steel will resist the elements while brass will remain robust, developing patina over time. When it comes to shower fittings, only use those designed for outdoor use. Products which come with a warranty, such as Rainwear make excellent modern shower fittings. Reece also have an excellent range.
Do you have enough privacy while showering? You may not have to screen off your shower. Check the view from the neighbours’ properties. You can use plants and trees for screening. You can also use bamboo or wooden panelling for a DIY outdoor shower enclosure. Corrugated iron may also make a great screen for showering outdoors.
Image source: LDa Architecture & Interiors
The best outdoor shower will be carefully thought through so that you avoid slipping, burning yourself or falling down. Take these aspects into consideration for safety purposes:
- Keep your indoor shower floor non-slip to avoid slipping or falling.
- Build your shower far away from electric power cables to avoid electrocution.
- If your shower does not have a temperature valve, ensure the water is heated to a maximum of 55 degrees.
- Before you begin your shower, run the water for a few seconds to assess the temperature. Sometimes the sun can heat water remaining in your pipes to scalding point.
Image source: Sharon Barrett Interiors
Do you want to add an outdoor bath? Check out outdoor pool shower ideas? A large tub will give you space to bathe under the stars. The kids will love it and you can even use it to give your pet a bath while sparing your indoor bathroom. An outdoor bath is cheaper than a pool and could give you hours of enjoyment.
When you use your shower, will you need a shelf for your soaps and shampoos? How about outdoor shower hooks for your towels, a bench for your folded clothes, or a space to hang your wetsuit or store your surfboard? Taking your life needs into account will help you to create an outdoor shower which is enjoyable to use. Remember to look for biodegradable products when making your selections.
Image source: Carlos Delgado Architect
If you’re creating screening, you could use corrugated steel as an outdoor shower screen. Depending on the amount of privacy you wish to create, you could create a single side for screening, or an outside shower stall with a door. This will enclose your shower completely.
Image source: Wanderlust Photography
Using the trimmed edges of old surfboards will provide you with the perfect upright for your shower installation. This way, you use recycled materials. A stone base will encourage water to run off into your plants, adding grey water to your garden. Use plant friendly soaps and washes in your shower to keep your plants healthy.
If you’re looking for an open air shower that you can move around at will, a temporary shower kit which can be attached to your hose pipe makes a really great choice. Add a bright curtain to your homemade camp shower and ‘Voila!’ you know how to make a portable shower that can serve you in multiple situations.
In an open air shower, using slatted beams as shower screens gives you the perfect bridge between inside and out. This great rustic style outdoor shower also benefits from stone shelving which can be wedged between the slats. These will provide great spaces to store your soaps and shampoos.
Shower beneath an arbour
Image source: Robert D. Gentry Photography
If you love to walk or sit under an arbour, why not shower under one? An arbour will give you a great sense of privacy for your backyard shower. All you need to do is install plumbing for an arbour shower, and you’re all set.
Create a canvas enclosure
Outdoor shower pipe is inexpensive and will give you the opportunity to build a homemade outdoor shower frame. By adding canvas or curtains to this frame, you’ll have a great DIY shower. You can also take down your canvas curtains during winter time if the need arises.
Use bamboo screening for a tropical look
Image source: swelldone
If you’d like your shower to be less casual and more tropical, you can always use a wooden frame with bamboo blinds attached. You’ll create a great exotic atmosphere for showering outdoors.
Use your patio as a divider
If you already have a patio, there is no reason why you can’t use your patio wall as a shower screen. You wouldn’t even need to conceal your plumbing. Raw pipes connected to your water system and a shower head could look attractive. Adding a curtain rod and retractable curtain to an open area would give you complete privacy while you showered.
Rain forest showering
Image source: Craig Reynolds Landscape Architecture
If you want to create a homemade outdoor shower but lack plumbing skills, don’t worry. If you have a strong tree in your garden, you’ll be able to create the easiest outdoor shower of all. Add a showerhead to your hosepipe and drape it over a strong branch. Add a vintage ladder and use it as a towel rail.
For a traditional looking outdoor shower, you can create a pergola styled roof and use cedar shakes as screening walls. If your home includes these architectural elements, your outdoor shower will blend right in, creating a striking visual impact. A barn door would make a great addition.
Image source: Michael Woodall photographer
If you have a tree lined area in the back of your garden, a great wall of green glass mosaics will make you feel as though you are bathing in a tropical rainforest. What a great shower, what a great backdrop!
Tree trunk showering
If you want to add a great DIY outdoor shower experience to your garden, why not mount your shower against a tree trunk? There’s no better way of finishing off your great day outdoors than with a tree trunk shower.
Image source: Resolution: 4 Architecture
If you love the idea of taking an outdoor shower but don’t want an experience which feels too rustic, you could always create a wet room with hinged shutters. The shutters will let in light and air from outside while you’ll still get all the benefits of an indoor shower.
Choosing your materials
Image source: Allen Construction
As you can see, there is a great deal of choice when it comes to building an outdoor shower. From bamboo to canvas, wood, bricks, mosaics, travertine or corrugated metal, there is a choice for everyone. The materials you choose will depend on your style and budget. With some careful consideration, you’ll have no difficulty finding materials which will suit your personal style as well as your home architecture or landscape style.
Consider these tips for your backyard shower
Image source: Terra Rubina
- If you are going to be building a patio shower with plumbing, you will need to get a permit before you do so. You could proceed without a permit, but this could mean you’d have to take down your fittings or pay fines if you decide to sell your home.
- When installing your shower, established contractors make the best choice. They will be able to handle any permits you need in order to construct your structure.
- Ask your plumber or contractor to assess your water heater to ensure it can handle the duties of your outside shower.
- Some homeowners associations, CC&Rs or municipalities do not allow outdoor showering. Check with your local authorities to see if building an outdoor shower is an option for you before you proceed.
- When planning your outdoor shower, choose a sunny spot. This will help your shower to dry out more easily, will provide you with natural light, and will keep you warmer while showering.
- If you wish to shower after dark, you will need to install lighting in your shower. To do this you will need a qualified electrician, as well as a permit to run electricity into this area of your garden.
- If you plan to install your shower near your patio, courtyard or home walls, make sure the area can withstand a great deal of water. Some products haven’t been designed to take a lot of water and may become damaged.
- If you are installing your shower against the wall of your home, it is generally best to do this while you are either building your home or renovating it and replacing the siding. This will mean that all construction will be designed with an outdoor shower in mind.
- While designing your shower, take privacy into account. How many shower sides will you need, and what materials will you use? If you have neighbours close by, privacy will be of utmost importance.
- Drainage is a very important part of any outdoor shower. Consult a professional to ensure that your drainage will be adequate, and to make any changes you need.
- Ask your contractor to assist you with using your shower water as part of a grey water system for plants. This system does not have to be complex. You could make use of gravity to direct water towards your plants. Your contractor will assist you to set up a system which works for your property.
- Slippery flooring is dangerous in an outdoor shower. Slip resistant paving stones or other floor surfaces will help you to stay safe while your flooring is wet.
- Your shower is open to the elements, which means that all fittings and fixtures will need to be tough and durable. What works in an indoor shower will not necessarily work in an outdoor one. Check that your materials are weather proof while designing your shower.