ARTICLE Sharon Stephenson
Forget about rinsing off with the garden hose. Whether it’s washing sand from between your toes or simply washing off after a hard day, nothing beats an outdoor shower. But you don’t have to be near the beach or pool to appreciate alfresco showering. Even landlocked homeowners are discovering that outdoor showers aren’t just practical, they can also be invigorating, connecting you to nature.
As with most things in life, outdoor showers come in different shapes and sizes. The most practical and easiest to install is a simple shower-head attached to the side of the house and connected to the garden hose via an on/off valve. But if you want something a little more luxurious, where you’ll really want to linger, then the sky’s the limit in terms of creating a sanctuary that can be used all year round.
Here are a few options that might work for your garden, and budget.
Make it portable
These are the most budget friendly option, according to Tauranga-based Zones Landscape Architect Nichola Vague. “You can move a portable shower around your garden and even take it camping, or wherever there’s a water supply and hose,” says Nichola.
A wall-mounted outdoor shower is probably the most permanent and durable option, since it’s fitted and attached to your home. “Wall-mounted showers are most often found next to a pool or in some other convenient spot,” says Nichola. “With a wall-mounted shower, you also have the option of building an enclosure for greater privacy.”
Stand-alone showers are built away from the dwelling and include their own underground plumbing. Some stand-alone showers can be moved and attached to a garden hose or a double hose that runs hot and cold. “If you’re not sure where you want to place your shower, this is an option worth considering.”
Outdoor shower enclosures
These include stone, concrete, wood and corrugated iron, says Nichola. Try to pick up on materials that are already in you home or landscape. “A concrete enclosure is the heavy duty option, which should last for years. They can look contemporary as well as timeless, although for some people concrete may not be as aesthetically pleasing as a wooden shower enclosure.” The most popular material for an outdoor shower enclosure is wood, a versatile, durable and beautiful option. It also blends well with most landscapes. “Wooden enclosures are relatively easy to install and last for years. Best of all, wooden outdoor shower enclosures are one of the more affordable options.”
Should you wish to keep it rustic and ‘Kiwi as’, then go for a corrugated iron enclosure. Just bear in mind that long-term exposure to moisture can cause it to rust. And when the material starts breaking down, sharp debris will start forming, which can be dangerous. “You can also have a bit of fun using an old surfboard as the shower support or a watering can as the shower nozzle,” says Nichola.
Once you’ve decided on the type of outdoor shower, the next consideration is where to put it. “It’s important to find a spot that not only provides privacy but is also connected to the home’s indoor and outdoor spaces,” says Nichola. If you’d prefer to locate the shower away from the house, then seek out a quiet corner of your garden where you can build a pergola or shield for privacy. No matter where you choose, access to the house is important. “You don’t want to be traipsing sand and mud through your house, so ensure that the location works with your layout.”
Keep away from prying eyes
Outdoor showers should be designed with the most demure bather in mind, suggests Nichola. “Before breaking ground, stand in the spot where you’re going to build and take note of all the sight lines, including nearby decks, tree-houses and upper storey windows. There are clever ways to block these views without sacrificing the joy of outdoor bathing, including installing an overhead trellis and fast-growing vines, which can shield bathers from a bird’s eye view.” Other options include installing slatted walls and using offset partitions for an eye-catching feature.
Use an over-scale concrete paver or slab of stone with a gravel border to stand on or, alternatively, a section of decking (beware that decking can get slippery).
There are a number of shower systems that harness the sun’s energy to heat water for the shower.
Help integrate your shower into the landscape by nestling it within a planted backdrop. Use scented plants (eg star jasmine, rosemary) and lush foliage. Avoid prickly or needle-like foliage. Planting can also be used to reinforce privacy. “As with any plumbing project in your property where you will be discharging waste water, check with your local authority for regulations around outdoor showers before you go ahead,” says Nichola.
You might be interested in reading this: Creating a sanctuary from native plants
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