There's a new wellness garden trend that fits into even the smallest outdoor spaces

Spa gardens are the new wellness trend in design that couldn't feel more right for the way we want to live

spa garden with outdoor shower
Design by Ellie Edkins
(Image credit: Kat Weatherill)

Design and wellness have almost become synonymous. Almost every decor suggestion we make here at Livingetc is based around creating a nicer place to live, a happier environment, one that will - ultimately - boost your wellness.

So it's no surprise that garden trends have adopted wellness too, and that the spa garden is now a thing that almost anyone with any outdoor space can have.

Yes, if your backyard is big enough for a shed or garden studio, it's big enough for a spa. This has increasingly been the attitude of city dwellers who are after the importance of wellness, with comfort becoming central to our daily desires. 

How to create a spa garden

garden sauna

(Image credit: Applied Studio)

Architects Applied Studio recently completed this project in Hackney, East London where they designed and built a snug sauna (with windows onto the planting), open air shower and relaxation space in an area measuring little over 13 x 8 feet.

For all outdoor baths and showers, you’re going to need to think about water supply and drainage which is why, if you’re on a budget and want to use your alfresco bathroom often, Mike Trender of freestanding bath specialist Victoria+Albert recommends positioning it close to the existing plumbing in the house. 

He also advises researching your materials carefully - acrylic or stone are your best options. ‘Outdoor baths need to be photostable, able to withstand extreme jumps in temperature and have non-ferrous fittings that won’t rust or crack,’ he says.

Patricia Urquiola has created the Vieques Outdoor bathroom collection for Agape

Patricia Urquiola has created the Vieques Outdoor bathroom collection for Agape

(Image credit: Agape)

Of course, when it comes to a spa garden, you're going to want a bit of privacy. Garden fencing ideas are a good start here, but there are other screening methods you can employ.

Designer of a container show garden at the Chelsea Flower Show 2021 Ellie Edkins used contemporary corrugated iron planters to screen a shower area from view, shown at the top of the page.  

The shower is plumbed in much as a traditional water feature would be, with a reservoir and pump to conserve water. ‘I think it’s quite playful to have a shower in the garden,’ Ellie says. ‘And you don’t necessarily need hot water. A cold blast can be very invigorating after a day stuck at home.’

garden spa outdoor shower

(Image credit: Dobbies)

 ‘The number of people looking for outdoor hot tubs has just exploded,’ says owner at the Yurt Retreat in Somerset, UK, Paul Irish. ‘Because they can be energy- and water-inefficient, we balance it out with outdoor baths too.’ 

Sheltering walls provide protection from the wind and an old-style copper and glass ship’s lamp and weather-proof fairy lights add to the enchantment, enabling you to get outside at a time when you would normally be tucked up inside. ‘It’s a totally different way to experience nature,’ he says. 

garden outdoor shower

(Image credit: Dimitar Gamizov)

Natasha Goodfellow is a writer, editor and curator who’s interested in all sorts of things, especially gardens and plants, craft and design, and interiors and people. She has over 20 years’ editorial experience, writing for publications such as Livingetc, and including Gardens Illustrated, Elle Decoration UK, Country Life and Homes & Antiques (where she was deputy editor for four years).