Plant Life Balance

A beginner’s guide to building an outdoor bath

Hey now, hey now, this is what dreams are made of.

Researching this article had us endlessly scrolling through photos of outdoor bathing. Some are luxurious, some simple, some ridiculous – but all of them promise the dreamy combo of relaxation and cleanliness that swimming pools and spas just don’t quite deliver.

So for when we have the cash (or for those who have it now), here are some thoughts we’ve had about how to do it right.

A note for renters

Creating an outdoor bath is as easy as looking for an old bath on Gumtree, propping it up on some bricks, surrounding it with pot plants and filling it from the hose. A full bath of water is pretty heavy so only try this if you have a courtyard or backyard, (not a balcony – in which case – inflatable kid’s pool?).

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You need plants

As always, lots of plants everywhere, all the time, ESPECIALLY when bathing outdoors. Our Backyard Bather look is definitely an inspiration. We imagine ourselves there, accidentally splashing our bath-side plant babes as we hop in and out, giving them an extra little drink.


Ideally, you place your bath or shower in space that offers some privacy. Airflow is important too, so avoid the dankest part of your garden (you don’t want mozzies). For baths, you can use bricks to create stable feet for the tub, while for showers, you’ll need somewhere to stand so you aren’t standing in mud – bricks can help here too. If all goes to plan, you can swan out of your bedroom right into a luscious garden nook where a tranquil bath awaits you, then nip back in when you’re done.

Hot water

Outdoor baths do raise the question, what about hot water? Well, if you live in a warm climate and you’re just washing down after a swim, then probably not. If it’s a little colder, then connecting the hot water is essential and it will have to be connected from the house.

Close-enough alternatives

Not all of us have the space for outdoor bathing, but for those who are renovating the bathroom, you could install some gloriously large windows that can be opened to let the indoors in. Plants like magnolia ‘White Caviar’ (or similar) in large pots create instant privacy as well as a nice outlook.

Our Backyard Bather look in the Plant Life Balance app is terrific inspiration for any outdoor bathing scenario, including a helpful plant list. Download the app for free from the App Store or Google Play.

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