When running through their must-haves and lust-haves, clients rarely consider adding an outdoor shower to the list. But, while not as high profile as a pool or a built-in barbecue, an outdoor shower is a simple addition to a garden design and can be both practical and an unexpected joy.
Do I need an outdoor shower?
Some properties cry out for an outdoor shower, usually driven by proximity to a body of water; seaside homes need a place to rinse off after a beach trip so you don’t track sand into the house, but even a swimming pool can benefit from an outdoor shower as a place to sluice yourself with fresh water post-swim. But you don’t need to be one of the lucky few with an absolute waterfront home to consider an outdoor shower; anyone who loves the water – surfing, swimming, or even beach walks with the dog – may find an outdoor shower both useful and an indulgent end to an energetic session by the sea.
Designing an outdoor shower
When designing an outdoor shower, the operative word is ‘outdoor’, meaning it should feel distinctly different from your bathroom indoors. The plumbing itself may not be that different, but where you can really have fun is with the base. We’d tend to steer away from pavers here – looking down at porcelain tiles takes all the magic away from the outdoor showering experience. Decking works better and there’s something fun and uniquely charming about seeing water run between the decking boards rather than flowing towards a drain, as you see indoors. Another lovely effect is to lay large stepping stones, interplanted with a lush groundcover, which really captures the feeling of wildness you want from an outdoor shower.
While it’s nice to build an outdoor shower as a bit of a design feature, it’s generally not one for public consumption – meaning, privacy is imperative. While it should be easily accessibly, positioned somewhere along the thoroughfare between back gate and the house usually, no one wants an audience when they shower – and it adds to the sense of romance if it’s a subtle feature that you discover, rather than one that sits centrestage in the garden.
Tackling the issue of privacy is best done with subtlety. While a hard screen is obviously the quickest and easiest solution, it’s preferable to use natural screening to retain that sense of wildness. This might be choosing a particular spot in the garden that is naturally sheltered or has a large tree blocking neighbours’ views from above, or strategically planting hedges or climbers to create a feeling of solitude.