Bathing in the Great Outdoors

By: Julie Day


I can’t resist an outdoor shower.

There are so many things I love about the beach – the sand, wind, sun, crashing waves, and salt air seem to suit my chemistry. But in addition to all those things, the beach is one of the few places on earth where I can be reasonably assured of finding one of my other great loves – an outdoor shower.

It doesn’t even have to be fancy, but there’s something about warm water on my skin, natural wood under my toes, a fresh breeze ruffling the towel – and the occasional surprised frog – that trumps even the most decadent of whirlpool tubs. I know, some of you think I’m crazy. But I happen to LIKE frogs, and if given a choice, I always feel more human when I’m closer to the elements.

To wash my hands with natural soap in this gorgeous copper bowl, then to toss the water out the “window” into the waiting compost pile, to me is the epitome of luxurious simplicity. When I live like this, life makes more sense.


Peaceful washing.

Outdoor showers are not just for sandy toes and vacation homes any more. Lovely open-air baths and showers are making their way into modern architecture as a private, luxurious extension of the master bathroom, and casual, comfy designs are taking their place in backyards as a handy washing spot for muddy gardeners, kids, and pets. From elaborate tiled walls, to a simple ring-and-shower curtain, the options for design are limited only by your imagination!

If you’re thinking about adding an outdoor shower to your yard, keep in mind these tips:


Easy outdoor installation.

  • Plumbing: The plumbing for an outdoor shower is no different than for an indoor shower (and it’s a great use for that old shower head you have laying around in the garage), but if you live in an area with freezing-cold winters, you’ll need to take steps to prevent the pipes from freezing. One easy solution is to build a portable shower that can be disconnected when it gets too cold to use it. Or, you may opt for a stationary shower with an indoor shutoff valve, so you can clear out and winterize the pipes each fall.
  • Drainage: If you’re planning to use hot water, soap or shampoo, or you’ll be washing off chemicals or paints, you’ll need to route the drain into your home’s sewer, septic, or gray-water recycling system.
  • Materials:Many outdoor-rated building materials are suitable for showers, particularly cedar, teak, exterior tile, vinyl, and natural stone. River pebbles or wood slats can conceal a modern shower pan and drain, and water-loving landscape plants can be used for screening. Pressure-treated lumber is also often used, but keep in mind that it does contain chemicals that may be released into the water.

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