Should You Get a Backyard Bathtub?

Updated: Jul. 27, 2023

The soothing home design trend is popping up in backyards across the country—but is it right for yours?

Imagine a quiet, peaceful oasis: lush plants, warm water and perfect privacy. This is the promise of the backyard bathtub, one of the latest home design trends. Homeowners are installing freestanding bathtubs in their backyards as a way to unwind outside and prioritize their wellness. Here’s everything you need to know about the backyard bathtub trend, including what they are; which homes, lifestyles, and budgets are best suited to them; and how to install your own backyard bathtub.

What Is a Backyard Bathtub?

Think of a backyard bathtub as a more affordable, personalized version of a hot tub or plunge pool. They are primarily a tool for wellness, combining the benefits of bath time with the benefits of outdoor time. In the words of Kevin Lenhart, design director and landscape architect at Yardzen, “There are loads of studies documenting the health benefits of getting out and being in nature. When you take the health benefit of a bath and the health benefits of being outside and you overlap them, it’s a pretty obvious win.”

Should I Get a Backyard Bathtub?

Outdoor Bathtub With Relaxing Natural Scene on an outdoor deck surrounded by plants and greeneryTeddyBearPicnic/Getty Images

Before you take the plunge, consider whether you have the space, lifestyle and budget to create and benefit from a backyard bathtub.


First, peace and privacy is key to backyard bathing. Therefore, consider if you have a backyard with sufficiently shrouded space for a bath. As Lenhart points out, “You want to make sure that there is a sufficient level of privacy for you to feel comfortable, because the tub is going to be a failure from a design perspective if you don’t feel at peace when you’re using it.” However, if you don’t have a privacy fence, don’t write off backyard bathtubs just yet. Adding lush, tall, dense plants can create a natural private retreat and a beautiful backdrop for your bath, though you’ll obviously need the space to do so.

Additionally, consider whether or not you want hot water in your bathtub. If so, you’ll need to place the bathtub in a place where you can install plumbing (placing the tub closer to your home typically yields cheaper plumbing). If you don’t want to install plumbing, you can still use the bathtub to cool down or as a makeshift ice bath. Just make sure your hose reaches the tub to fill it and that the garden surrounding the tub haas an in-ground drainage system to siphon off the water.

And finally, review the space you have around the tub for various bathing accoutrements. Do you have space for a garden pathway (not gravel) to the tub? Where will you place your towel, soaps, and shampoo? Be sure to think through these space necessities before you try to install a backyard bathtub.


Next, it’s important to ensure you will actually use the backyard bathtub before you install one. Ask yourself how often you take baths and if you feel comfortable taking one outside. Then, consider other uses you might have for the bathtub. As Lenhart explains, “What you want to avoid is having it be a single-use feature that is only providing value when you’re actually sitting in the tub. We’ve seen people get creative around outdoor bathtubs, to try to get value out of them beyond simply bathing.” A backyard bathtub could also be used as a dog wash station, a drink cooler, or even a kiddie pool for your children to enjoy.


Finally, make sure you truly have the money to invest in a backyard bathtub. As Lenhart explains, “It’s quite common for people to underestimate the costs of a landscape project…outdoor baths fall into that pitfall.” Before you go out and buy a bathtub, call your plumbers for a quote, then factor in the costs of installing a foundation, as the bathtub will need a sturdy base. Additionally, factor in the costs of installing a pathway and garden of foliage.

How Do I Set Up a Backyard Bathtub?

Bare Foot Of Mature Woman Stepping Into Fresh Cold Water Tub At Eco RetreatLeon Harris/Getty Images

If you choose to move forward with installing a backyard bathtub, you need to follow a few key steps.

1. Choose the right tub

Many homeowners are drawn to the classic beauty of vintage baths, especially clawfoot tubs. However, it’s worth noting these aren’t always optimal for a backyard bath. While used, resale tubs may be cheaper, they also often cannot withstand outside weather conditions. So before purchasing one, be sure to double-check its condition, both for your bathing enjoyment and for its own wellbeing.

2. Bring in Plumbers

If you want plumbing for your backyard bathtub, it’s time to pick up the phone. Check the requirements of your bathtub and communicate them to an experienced plumber. They will also be able to guide you on what type of foundation is best suited for the job.

3. Install a Foundation

Next comes installing a foundation. If needed, reach out to a local contractor and have them help you level the terrain; add drainage-promoting materials; and install tile, cement or whatever surface you’d like the bathtub to rest on. Be sure to consider areas around the tub where you might like to install the garden.

4. Style Your Oasis

Once the foundation is built, the bathtub is placed and plumbing is installed, it’s time for the fun part: building your oasis. Choose tall, dense foliage to promote privacy and, above all, find plants that make you feel happy and relaxed. We love these fragrant flowers, as well as these privacy shrubs, but follow your instincts. After all, when it comes to backyard bathing, your enjoyment is the entire point. Happy bathing!