The Outdoor Shower

I have always loved showering outdoors. It might be one of my favorite things about beach vacations. With the very mild/hot climate in Texas, an outdoor shower was one of my first priorities when I bought a house. Plus, it has the added benefit of providing irrigation to my fruit trees.DSCN1461[1]

The materials for the project were minimal:

  1. Old fencing material that I found left out for bulky item trash collection.
  2. Boiled linseed oil
  3. 2” deck screws
  4. Garden hose
  5. Shower apparatus

The placement of the shower was perhaps the most important decision. For the irrigation benefit, it was important to place the shower at the point of highest elevation in my backyard. I also wanted it to be located in a place that could not be used for other purposes, such as fruit or vegetable cultivation. Proximity to a water connection was also a factor.

My yard is extremely flat with a change in elevation of maybe a few inches. There are 2 large oak trees, so locating the shower under one of these trees would be a location that can’t be used for another purpose, and provide some added privacy. Using a bunjip, I was able to determine that the location under one of the trees is a few inches higher than the other tree; therefore, this was established as my shower location.

The oak tree is on the other side of a 6′ wooden fence and it hangs over into my yard. There is also an 8′ wooden fence along the entire back side of the property. These fences were key to providing privacy.  By using the 6′ fence as one wall of my shower, and facing it toward the 8′ fence I only needed to build 2 shower walls. The user would need to walk to the back of the property and enter the shower from the direction of the 8′ fence (see image above, which shows the position of the shower in relation to the two fences).

I started with sorting the old fence boards to figure out what could be used. I had 2 4”x4”s and several 1”x6”s. I maximized the usable length at 5′ based on the non-rotted portion of the fencing. By running it horizontally and screwing to the 4”x4”s, I could minimize material usage. A minimum of 3.5′ width was needed, which resulted in a fair amount of scrap material. I figured a few feet at the bottom could be left exposed.

After selecting 10 boards for each side, I cut them down to 5′ lengths for the long side and 43” for the short side. Then everything was painted with boiled linseed oil for weather protection.

For the assembly: I started with screwing the 1”x6” boards to the 4”x4”s in the garage. Everything could be laid flat in the garage. With some assistance and a level, we were able to get both sides screwed together. And then we carried it to the back yard. It was heavy and bulky.

We dug 2 holes to make footings for the 4”x4”s these were about 1′ deep.  We got everything in place before pouring the concrete into the footings. This was actually quite simple and just involves adding a little water and a bag of concrete in a bucket (or directly in the hole), and mixing a bit with a large paint stirrer. The 2 4”x4”s were installed in this manner, and the other side of the short end was screwed to the DSCN1465[1]existing 6′ fence. A level was key to getting all of this done correctly. The photograph to the right shows the short end of the fence secured to a 2”x4”, which is then secured to the existing 6′ fence.

With the woodworking portion of the work complete, the plumbing had to be addressed. I went to Lowes to try to get the parts with assistance from the plumbing department, but they laughed in my face when I told them what I was trying to accomplish.  With a bruised ego, I tried to looked for something already assembled. I ended up finding the showerhead and control apparatus on Amazon (Homewerks shower utility faucet) for about $35. You simply connect a hose to the hot/cold water lines. This is exactly what I was looking for, and it even came with a soapdish!  Hooking up the water was a cinch.

DSCN1462[1]

Next was drainage and grading. Since I was hoping to irrigate my fruit trees, I needed to direct the water to a specific area of the yard. To achieve this, I sloped the base of the shower toward one corner (the upper right in the above photo). Then I laid down sand to make an evenly sloped surface, with 6 mil black plastic sheeting on top of that to act as the shower pan.  The area is bordered by concrete edging that I salvaged from another part of the yard. I also had some 12”x12” pavers, which I evenly spaced and then surrounded with pea gravel. All of this except the sand and plastic was salvaged from other parts of the yard. Below is an image of the final shower floor.

DSCN1466[1]

I then dug a trench toward the fruit trees and placed a PVC pipe in the first part of the trench to direct the water appropriately. I added coarse aggregate in the portion of the trench that did not have PVC to help prevent it from filling in.

All in all it was a bit of work but when I’m enjoying the outdoor breeze and a cool shower on hot summer days, I couldn’t be happier!

 

 

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