Tucked away behind a garden wall, or hidden inside a designated outdoor enclosure, an outdoor shower is one of those home details you’d never consider a necessity until you had one.
Homeowners who relish the idea of an au naturel shower experience see it two ways: the ultimate convenience in their garden or pool area; and a supreme luxury that satisfies a primal yearning to connect with nature.
Spending so much time outdoors takes a certain kind of endurance most Austinites come to accept. If you take advantage of the many things to do in town, your neighborhood, or your backyard, you’re going to get hot, sweaty and dirty.
It’s a given: You have to embrace the Central Texas heat and humidity if you want to have fun. Sure we love our AC, too. Entering a building and being greeted with a wall of chilled air braces even the soggiest mess of humanity. Still, after lounging outside under the shade of a live oak or spending hours on Lake Travis, a truly happy Austin resident is comfortable with a certain sticky, gritty quality to life in general.
But living outside should also include freshening up outside.
Imagine being able to rinse it all away before coming inside your home, or to step outside and bathe in the balmy air, exposed to the elements… Ahh, pure refreshment!
If you’re considering an outdoor shower to complete your pool or garden area, the sky’s the limit. From the simplest showerhead to an experience comparable to a steady spring rainstorm, creating your outdoor shower is actually pretty simple. As you’re building your outdoor space, all you need is plumbing and drainage.
Jesse Miller from Ferguson’s Plumbing offered three considerations a homeowner might weigh before installing a shower outside:
3. Clean regularly. Regardless of the finish, the shower head, if exposed to the elements, will need to be wiped down regularly.
2. Choose high-end shower fixtures like Moen (“built for life”) from a supply shop that specializes in plumbing equipment. The big box stores may carry some of the name brands you see elsewhere, but they often negotiate lower wholesale prices with manufacturers by using cheaper materials in the interior parts, like filters and nozzles. Spend a little more to get a longer-lasting fixture.
3. Insulate those pipes. Remember, seasons can be harsh here in Austin. Protect pipes from freezing and blistering hot temperatures.
The ideal outdoor shower is more than just running water. After all, the barest bones outdoor shower might look like a hose looped over a tree branch! Think about the way you’ll use your shower and some of the amenities you’d like included (a towel hook is absolutely necessary, for example), and them let your imagination play. Lacking ideas? Borrow some of these…
Rainwater collection. Some homeowners collect rainwater and use it, unfiltered, for their outdoor needs like watering the garden. An outdoor shower could easily incorporate even the most basic rainwater collection system. Of course, the water temperature regulation is up to you.
Timed water flow. Conserving water? Put your shower on a timed release and pump water for a minute at a time.
Separate outdoor room. You could also go all out with your shower and build a wood or stone enclosure allowing for privacy and all the amenities like soap dishes, side sprayers and towel racks. Just like an outdoor spa, the level of comfort and elegance is practically limitless – even outside.
Lighting. There’s nothing worse than showering in the dark. Think about putting a light over the shower stall for ease of use at night.
Make it a double. A second shower head at foot or dog bathing-level could be totally worth it. Spare your indoor floors from messy romps at the muddy park or sandy beach. You could also install a handheld nozzle for those unforeseen cleanup scenarios. Think ahead to all the ways you might use an outdoor cleaning station, and design in your options.
While an outdoor shower may not be the first thing that comes to mind as you’re designing your outdoor space, it might end up being your yard’s most practical and luxurious feature.