Outdoor showers are a great way to capture water and also create an aesthetic and enjoyable addition to your home. In warmer regions outdoor showers can be used year around. In temperate regions can be used during the growing season and provide a great climate for water loving plants like elderberry, mint and willow. A recent client considers her outdoor shower as a meditative and sacred space and indeed, they can be quite beautiful and meditative.
Creative examples of outdoor showers.
In the design I did for our Hibiscus house, our outdoor shower is placed directly outside of an indoor shower, making the plumbing simple and inexpensive since the pipes run up the outside wall and are very accessible. Walls and fencing already exist on three sides, and the shower is in a corner of the yard, offering privacy. In permaculture design, we strive to use existing resources to reduce the amount of energy and inputs going into the system. We also capture waste and use it to create more resources.
Bananas create thick stands of protection and love water.
We will capture water from the shower with a modified, lined french drain that will lead to a banana circle on the fourth side of the shower. Water loving chocolate mint, apple mint, orange mint, silver mint and peppermint will be planted in the corners of the shower to catch moisture as well. Passion flower, yam and jasmine vines will line nearby walls.
We will include other plants that grow well with bananas to form a plant guild, including pigeon pea, tropical beans and sweet potato (seasonal), boniato, achira canna (edible roots and flowers), comfrey, papaya, and turmeric. A mix of edible flowers will border the circle. The banana circle is right outside of a bedroom door and can be used as an outdoor toilet (liquid waste only) and also to gather compost from kitchen scraps. Bananas are hungry and will make good use of the nitrogen rich organic matter. When wood chips are combined with nitrogen rich material, all odors are neutralized and the breakdown into nutrient-rich soil is accelerated. Thus, all things come full circle and “waste” is eliminated resulting in super-abundance in a small space.
A meditation bench is another addition - when the shower is not being used the area can serve as a very private space to enjoy the garden.
This small, out of the way, and formerly unused space will become multifunctional and ultra-productive - re-using water from our shower, capturing organic waste from the household, creating a beautiful outdoor meditation area, and producing a diverse abundance of food and organic matter.