Post-surf shower or evening soak un­der the stars? We’ve got your guide to al fresco bathing

Your Home and Garden - - Contents - Text by Sally Conor.

In­stalling an out­door shower or bath is be­com­ing more and more pop­u­lar in Kiwi back­yards, whether it’s a sim­ple cold-wa­ter shower for rins­ing off af­ter a swim, or a lux­u­ri­ous re­sort-style bathing zone. “Out­door show­ers, baths and hot tubs can add an­other di­men­sion to out­door ac­tiv­i­ties, cre­at­ing bet­ter year-round use and en­joy­ment of the out­doors,” says Mark Read, lead land­scape de­signer at Nat­u­ral Habi­tats. “The bath or shower is an el­e­ment of a larger de­sign goal, which is to con­nect to the out­doors, add ro­mance, re­lax­ation, and en­hance well­be­ing.”

Al­though it may seem sim­ple to pop an ex­tra tap and a shower head on the side of your house, adding out­door bathing into your gar­den re­quires a fair amount of plan­ning. Read our guide to po­si­tion­ing, plumb­ing and drain­ing your out­door shower, but con­sult your plumber or land­scape de­signer for ad­vice on your spe­cific house and gar­den setup.


+ Is your bath or shower go­ing to be per­ma­nently plumbed in? + Will it be close to your house or a lux­u­ri­ous des­ti­na­tion set a small dis­tance away?

+ Will the wa­ter be heated? If so, how? So­lar, mains elec­tri­cal, a wood or gas burner, or black plas­tic bags are all op­tions.

+ How will you main­tain pri­vacy? + Is your pre­ferred site shel­tered from the sun and wind? If not, how will you pro­vide this?

+ What type of drainage is best for the type of shower or bath you’ve cho­sen and its lo­ca­tion? + Will you con­nect to the wa­ter sup­ply or use a sep­a­rate source such as a rain tank?

+ What style will your bathing area have? Is it a stand­alone el­e­ment or in­flu­enced by the era of your house? Is it rus­tic and nat­u­ral or sleek and ar­chi­tec­tural?


If you’re plan­ning any­thing more com­pli­cated than a hosepipe, it’s a good idea to con­sult a plumber or gar­den de­signer for ad­vice about the best way to plumb your bath or shower, de­pend­ing on your bud­get. But here are a few op­tions to con­sider while de­cid­ing what might suit you best:

$ Hosepipe out the win­dow If your bath­tub or shower is si­t­u­ated close to your house, a sim­ple length of hosepipe at­tached to a bath or kitchen mixer will de­liver a hot open-air bath in no time. But you’ll still need to think care­fully about drainage for when you pull the plug.

$ Gar­den hose While it will only al­low a cold bathing ex­pe­ri­ence, hook­ing your out­door shower or bath up to the hose is an easy and cost-ef­fec­tive op­tion that will also give you more flex­i­bil­ity when it comes to lo­ca­tion.

$ $ Hot and cold taps You can tap into your home’s hot-wa­ter sup­ply for out­door bathing. A plumber will be able to ad­vise you on the best lo­ca­tion for a new set of out­door taps which can then be con­nected di­rectly to your out­door shower or bath.

$ $ $ Fixed plumb­ing Hook­ing up to the per­ma­nent wa­ter lines in your home is the most costly op­tion as it will in­volve new pipes and land­scap­ing to hide them if you wish to bathe a good dis­tance from your house. But the re­sult will be a seam­less bathing ex­pe­ri­ence of the ut­most lux­ury.


Out­door show­ers and baths of­ten don’t need com­plex drainage sys­tems, es­pe­cially if you’ll only be bathing out­doors oc­ca­sion­ally. But fre­quently drain­ing a bath or show­er­ing into your gar­den can cause prob­lems, so it’s best to get pro­fes­sional ad­vice. These are your most com­mon op­tions:

+ Di­rect gar­den drainage The eas­i­est and most eco-friendly way to drain a bath or shower is to let the waste wa­ter seep di­rectly into your gar­den. Make sure you don’t use any strong bath prod­ucts, sham­poos or soaps if you want to avoid harm­ing plants and crit­ters.

+ Stones and peb­bles Us­ing stone flags and peb­bles as the base for a ca­sual fresh­wa­ter shower will al­low wa­ter to nat­u­rally drain away into the ground while pro­vid­ing an el­e­gant sur­face.

+ Col­lec­tion tray If a shower or bath is in­stalled over deck­ing, a col­lec­tion tray can be placed un­der­neath to drain the wa­ter away into your home’s waste­water sys­tem.

+ Soak pit This struc­ture is de­signed to aid drainage and is suit­able for some sit­u­a­tions. Talk to a spe­cial­ist if you have a boggy gar­den, or if you want to bathe close to your house and there’s no slope to drain the wa­ter away from its foun­da­tions.

+ Plumbed-in If your shower or bath is likely to be used fre­quently, con­nect it to the house waste­water sys­tem to avoid your gar­den be­com­ing too damp or un­sta­ble.


There are a few dif­fer­ent ways to ap­proach choos­ing the lo­ca­tion for your bath or shower:

+ Ex­ist­ing plants Since out­door bathing is all about con­nect­ing with na­ture, a great start­ing point can be to look at your ex­ist­ing gar­den and plants and find a lush, leafy spot that pro­vides good pri­vacy. + Plumb­ing Start­ing with the lo­ca­tion of ex­ist­ing bath­room or hose plumb­ing can help you si­t­u­ate your bathing spot for max­i­mum con­ve­nience (and lower cost).

+ Sur­face An ef­fec­tive out­door bathing sit­u­a­tion will be firm and flat and could in­clude a deck, pa­tio, path, drive­way or lawn.

+ Func­tion If your out­door shower is for rins­ing off af­ter a surf, you may wish to po­si­tion it just in­side the gar­den gate. But if you’re more in­ter­ested in cre­at­ing a re­lax­ing out­door bathing area, tak­ing ad­van­tage of the best view might be your pri­or­ity. Think about how you want to use your out­door shower or bath and make sure it’s go­ing to work for your life­style.

+ Shel­ter Con­sider care­fully the sit­u­a­tion of your bath or shower with re­gards to its ex­po­sure to wind and sun.


The sur­face un­der­neath your bath or shower should be wa­ter­re­sis­tant, sta­ble and per­me­able. If in­stalling a bath, re­mem­ber baths and hot tubs can be heavy so the sub­struc­ture must be de­signed to ac­com­mo­date this. Your main op­tions are:

+ Deck­ing or duck­boards are use­ful for slop­ing ar­eas to cre­ate a flat

sur­face. A wooden pal­let set on grass or peb­bles is an af­ford­able hack. + Peb­bles are great for drainage but can be a lit­tle hard on the feet so

add a drain­ing plate to stand on.

+ Flag­stones set in a peb­ble sur­round look great, feel com­fort­able and

pro­vide good drainage.

+ Tiled slabs work best for slick ar­chi­tec­tural de­signs.

+ Punched steel can be an ef­fec­tive shower floor if an in­dus­trial look

is pre­ferred.


+ Check with your lo­cal coun­cil De­pend­ing on the type of bathing struc­ture you are plan­ning, you may need re­source con­sent or build­ing con­sent, or both. It never hurts to ask!


Land­scape de­signer


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