Those of us in the southeastern U.S. know there’s no avoiding the sweltering summer temperatures. In fact, it’s more important than ever to be outside maintaining and protecting your lawn, garden, and home exterior from the dry, scorching elements.
Thankfully, the outdoor living design experts have turned to an ancient amenity popularized in Europe, adopted by New England coastal dwellers, and now, revived for everyday use of modern homeowners. That amenity is the outdoor shower. Whatever your style or budget, now you can enjoy this formerly “vacation-only” luxury in your very own backyard.
Before you start drilling, make sure you’ve done your research into local building codes. In a New York Times article “Building an Outdoor Shower,” the author and self-appointed architect is emphatic on this point, writing, “the last thing you want to do is build it and find out you violated the plumbing code. With most towns, you can’t just drain into the grade. They’ll make you tie the thing directly into the sanitary sewer.”
Then, depending on the scale of your structure, it may be necessary to consult a panel of experts to ensure any plumbing or masonry facilitates proper drainage, runoff, and greywater disposal.
Now your ready to get your feet wet with these 6 invigorating outdoor shower designs:
This option is for the pure adventurer and draws inspiration from the simple watering can with a pull string camping apparatus. A more modern spin could involve a garden hose wrapped around a tree branch, shower head, and wooden towel ladder to hang drying linens on.
Another idea involves a steel pipe running up a shingled wall, culminating in a wooden bucket with holes drilled to the bottom, a small raised place for standing, and nature.
This outdoor shower option is created out of a free-standing, vertical structure such as a steel pipe, painted PVC pole, repurposed flagstaff, old basketball hoop base, reclaimed lamp post, or any hollow cylindrical object that can have a garden hose fed through and mounted to a water-resistant foot base.
This is the most popular outdoor shower option, as it most closely embodies the romance and free-spiritedness of the beach holiday experience. Here, you have two types to choose from:
The attached outdoor “shack” builds directly onto the home’s exterior wall and pre-existing spigots, saving plumbing by hooking directly to the main water lines. A popular and maintenance-free option is a half-oval rod mounted to the outside of the house, pulled closed by a weather-resistant curtain, and tucked behind a natural garden hedge or trellis lined with climbing vines and flowers.
Also, the market for prefabricated outdoor shower kits has turned out a wide range of beautiful, high-end products. Most brands comes with pressure-treated lumber (often composite deck wood, cedar, teak, acacia, or eucalyptus) for floor joists, rust-resistant panels of corrugated metal roofing for walls, redwood two-by-fours for doors, and threaded pipes for a showerhead. These easy-to-assemble kits cost a few hundred dollars and require a few solid hours of DIY labor, immediately rewarded with a refreshing rinse.
Many attached showers are carved out of an existing concrete patio, wooden porch, or pool deck, and take the shape of wooden or vinyl pergolas.
Free-standing outdoor showers can be more labor-intensive when they require plumbing excavation and carpentry. Once you’ve chosen the ideal spot to break ground, the enclosure can be built out of any weather-wearing material you can imagine, from old surfboards, barn doors, picket fences, garden gates, lattice wood, and louvered shutters. One design appeals to a rustic sensibility, constructing its walls from salvaged lumber assembled in slats to encourage air circulation and breezes all the while acting as a built-in towel rack.
Another design inspires calm and simplicity with a circular enclosure made of bamboo poles, while another creates an ethereal atmosphere with a white-washed trellis covered in fragrant wisteria and climbing vines. And nothing conveys the laid-back, easy-going feel of summer like four wooden posts and a privacy screen made out of an old waterproof boat sail!
Outdoor Light Well
These outdoor showers are built in the space between two already existing barriers. These rooms are the essence of light, open, and airy. The shower unit is mounted to one wall, while the other entryways allow for air circulation and penetrating sun rays via dutch doors, hinged shutters, wide windows, and lightscreen panels.
A gorgeous Mediterranean inspired design sees hand-painted tile mosaics built into a concrete retaining wall, brass fixtures, and a weathered, brick paver floor.
The outdoor spring is where design meets nature in the purest sense. A roofless alcove surrounded on three sides by a fieldstone retaining wall, atop of which a cantilevered basin sits spilling water over its side, cascading off the sun-reflected natural stone onto a concrete dish serving as the floor, while the entryway is lined with fragrant ornamentals like mint and chamomile which emit a tantalizing aroma when foot crushed en route to rinsing.
Turn Up the Heat
Most garden-hose assembly outdoor showers run cold, which, let’s face it, will be a welcome treat on those scorching summer days. However, a hugely popular feature of the modern outdoor shower is the solar roof heating system, which allows you to indulge in this luxury all year round.