How to Build an Outdoor Shower
An outdoor shower can serve many purposes, such as rinsing off before or after jumping into a pool, hot tub or sauna. It provides a private place in the yard to clean up, put on a bathing suit and get ready to relax. There is an infinite number of ways to set up an outdoor shower, but here is a simple approach that you can customize as you please. Surround it with nice landscaping and you might have a bit of a Shangri-la experience each time you use it.
This scenario involves a single post to support the plumbing and a pair of lightweight privacy walls made with corrugated metal roofing panels. It's presented here as a two-sided structure, but if you're building it in a place where you want privacy on all four sides, simply mirror the structure on the other side for four walls. You could offset the two halves to allow for an entry while maintaining privacy, or simply add hinges to one of the four panels and use it as a door.
Step 1 - Build a Firm Base
Excavate a level area 2 feet by 2 feet to the depth where there is good firm subsoil and hit it with a tamper a few times to make sure it is well-compacted. Backfill the excavated area with gravel up to within one inch of the surrounding grade and smooth it out so it is level. Lay four 2 by 2-foot pavers over the gravel as a surface to stand on while showering.
Spread soil back up around the edge of the pavers to create a smooth transition to the surrounding grade. Later you'll want to plant the soil with a moisture-loving groundcover like baby's tears to keep it from getting muddy.
Step 2 - Install the Support Post
Just off one corner of the paver pad dig a hole 18 inches deep by 12 inches wide and mix up a couple of bags of concrete in a wheelbarrow. Position a landscape timber in the center of the hole, make sure it is plumb, and pour in concrete to fill the hole around the timber.
Double-check that the timber is plumb and then allow the concrete to cure for 24 hours before proceeding.
Step 3 - Run the Plumbing
Drill a one-inch diameter hole through the base of the post just a few inches above the ground (the hole should align with the corner of the pad). Pass an 8-inch by 1/2-inch galvanized nipple through the hole and thread an elbow onto the end by the paver pad. Thread a 36-inch piece of galvanized pipe into the other side of the elbow; then thread a "straight" ball valve onto the end of it and another 36-inch section of pipe above that.
Secure the pipe to the timber with a couple of pipe hangers so that it is plumb and centered on the landscape timber. Thread an elbow and a short nipple onto the top of the pipe so it faces the pad and then attaches the showerhead. Finally, thread a 1/2-inch pipe to a 3/4-inch female hose thread adapter to the other end of the 8-inch nipple at the base of the posts. Connect a garden hose to the adapter for three-season water supply. Use pipe sealant tape on all the threaded pipe connections.
Step 4 - Frame the Side Walls
This design utilizes a pair of side walls attached to the landscape timber at a 90-degree angle. Build two rectangular frames to fit a standard 26-inch by 72-inch corrugated roof panel inside of each one. Use 2 by 4s (with the wider dimension facing inwards) for the outer portion of the frame. Then add four 2 by 2 horizontal cross members inside each frame running perpendicular to the 72-inch pieces: one at the top and bottom and one at the 24- and 48-inch marks (these should flush with the backside of the frame). Screw the corrugated panels to the cross members using self self-tapping sheet metal screws with rubber washers.
Step 5 - Attach the Side Walls
Screw one long side of each frame to the landscape timber using a level to make sure they are plumb and a carpenter's square to make sure they are at a 90-degree angle to each other (face the side of the frame with the 2 by 2 cross members toward the shower area - an easy customization is to use the 2 by 2 at the 48-inch height to support a little shelf made with a 1 by 4 as a ledge for toiletries). To support the sides of each frame that are not supported by the landscape timber, pound a piece of rebar into the ground adjacent to the outer edge of the frames and screw a wooden block to the frames where it will rest on top of the rebar. This way, the frame will not sag on the sides over time.