08 July 2008

An outdoor shower

I was talking to my brother yesterday who'd spent the better part of the day outside doing yard work. In the course of our conversation, I mentioned that I was going back to The Bahamas in a couple of weeks to stay in a thatched roof shack on the beach. I've been to this same place about four times already and I was telling my brother that one of my favorite things about the place is that the showers are outside. He started dreaming of building himself an outdoor shower for yard work days and I started whining because I want an outdoor shower to use every day. Ahhh, to be naked in the sunshine is indeed a wonderful thing and the very idea of an outdoor shower exerts a very strong pull on me for some reason. I'm fortunate to live in a climate where something like an outdoor shower would be usable virtually year-round. Not so my temperate-climate-inclined brother. But the whole conversation reminded me of an article I'd read in the New York Times at some point in the last two weeks. According to my pals at the Times, outdoor showering is a thing whose time has come.

Setting up a shower outdoors isn't such a big deal and by setting it up without a traditional drain line can irrigate the area immediately surrounding your outdoor shower. Furthermore, an outdoor shower could be a handy excuse to start thinking about greywater reclamation.

So to plan an outdoor shower of your own, you'll need access to a water line, access to hot water for the faint of heart and some form of privacy screen for the modest. If the shower's not going to be plumbed with a drain line, it should be positioned over a dry well. A dry well is essentially a pit filled with gravel. For additional elevation and to keep you from standing in water while it drains into the ground, building a small teak deck to use as a shower platform is a great idea. Finally, plant some bamboo or other fast-growing, screen-type shrub around the perimeter of the shower and voila! An activity one relegated to the inside comes out into the clear light of day.

If you're planning to build or have built any type of outdoor plumbing, be sure to use copper pipes and for God's sake put cut off valves on the supply lines. PVC pipes aren't stable in direct sunlight and who wants to breathe aerosolized PVC anyway?

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