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Why You Need an Outdoor Shower, and How to Make One

The cleanest way to beat the heat

You’re either immediately titillated by the very thought of an outdoor shower, or you’re not. If you’re in the first camp, you don’t need to be convinced that bathing au naturel is refreshing and, heck, a little thrilling. But if you don’t “get” the whole showering alfresco thing, here are a few practical reasons you should seriously consider putting up a backyard shower:

1. Chlorine. If you’ve got a pool, a freshwater shower after a dip can ward off hair and skin damage.

2. Kids. Have you looked at your children’s feet lately? Wash those things off before they traipse through the house.

3. Dogs. See No. 2.

4. Heat. Ugh, have you been outside? It’s Sweat Central out there.

5. Home value. There’s no guarantee a backyard drizzle will boost your home’s asking price, but “alfresco shower” sure does sound luxurious.

“It’s too hard to make,” “I’m not a DIY-er” and “The fire department showed up last time I attempted to build something” are bad excuses for avoiding this project, too, because it’s just so easy. Yes, you can construct a rustic-modern cedar shower stall worthy of a mountain spa, and if your carpentry skills are on par, go for it. And if you want hot water, call a plumber. But you don’t have to. All you really have to do is attach a hose to a shower head and hang it high.

What You’ll Need:

1. A site. Somewhere in your backyard near (but not directly against) your house.

2. A water source. In other words, your hose. Let’s not get too fancy.

3. A shower head. An outdoor shower practically requires a rain can; try this one.

4. Something to mount the shower head to. An old tree works (as seen in this treehouse); so does a tall post set in the ground.

5. Basic pipe fittings and tools. A sales associate at a home improvement store can offer up fittings that’ll attach your hose to your shower head.

6. Flooring. You just don’t want to put your clean tootsies on dirt. A big flat flagstone, a few old tiles, a wooden patio mat—pick something water-resistant and sturdy.

7. Biodegradable bath soap. Lather should attack true grit, not the environment.

8. An enclosure (optional): The whole point of showering outside is to go au naturel, right? Feel free to let it all hang out. But if you want some privacy—say, your neighbor has a sightline directly to your shower zone—string up a fabric shower curtain, bring in a Japanese-style shoji screen, or make a simple barrier from old fencing, corrugated steel or slatted wood.

How to Make It:

If you’re not using a tree, install the post or mounting structure into the ground. Set the flooring in place. Affix the shower head to the mount, then run the hose from your home to the mount, and use the pipe fittings to connect the hose to the shower head. Then turn the water on, lather up and wonder why you didn’t erect this shower years ago.