Is A Garden Tub Right For You? Weighing The Benefits And Drawbacks

Wooden bath tray with herbal massage bags and bathroom amenities on tub indoors

Garden Bathtubs were named by the 18th Century French elite who used to place their bathtubs outside where they could soak while enjoying their gardens. Eventually, the French elite moved their tubs inside and placed them by a window, still overlooking the garden.

Today a “garden tub” means any tub that is freestanding, has an eye-catching design, and is wider and deeper than a standard alcove tub. This tub type is usually rectangular or oval.

Designed for soaking and relaxation, this deep soaking bathtub type will often feature a curved, elegant design and can serve as a stylish centerpiece in the bathroom that can add value to your home.

How Do Garden Tubs Compare To Other Tubs?

Copper garden tub with lightly aged patina while the exterior
See the stunning SanSiro Cognac79VGAir French Bateau jetted garden bathtub from Baths of Distinction

Let’s take a look at how garden tubs compare to regular alcove tubs, jetted tubs, freestanding tubs, and Japanese soaking tubs.

Garden Tub Vs. Regular Tub (aka “Alcove Tub”)

Fiberglass vs Cast Iron Bathtub

The standard dimensions for an alcove tub are 60 inches long x 30 inches wide by 16 inches deep (exterior) with a 12-inch soaking depth measuring from the bottom of the tub to the overflow drain.

Garden tubs are typically larger than regular tubs, offering more space for relaxation and full-body immersion, making garden tubs a great option for those who enjoy long, luxurious soaks.

Regular tubs also called “alcove tubs” are typically built between three bathroom walls and can double as a shower. However, garden tubs can be placed anywhere in the bathroom and often serve as a design centerpiece in a primary bathroom.  

Due to their larger size and deeper interiors, garden tubs generally offer a more comfortable and relaxing bathing experience than regular tubs.

They often come with built-in seating areas or armrests, and their spacious interiors allow for full-body immersion. Regular tubs, while functional, may not provide the same level of comfort due to their smaller size.

Garden tubs are usually more expensive than regular alcove tubs due to their size, design, and materials. The price of installation can also be higher, as it may require more extensive plumbing work.

However, the luxurious bathing experience offered by garden tubs can make the extra cost worthwhile for many homeowners.

Garden Tub Vs. Soaking Tub

Wood Bathtub

Garden tubs are essentially a type of soaking tub, but can be considered as taking the soaking tub concept to the next level.

Standard soaking tubs are also deep, spacious bathtubs designed for full-body immersion. However, unlike garden tubs, soaking tubs can be either freestanding or fixed between walls or even dropped into a pre-made platform. 

Garden Bathtub Vs. Freestanding bathtub

contemporary freestanding tub

A garden tub is a type of large and deep freestanding tub built for luxury and often with a modern or ornate design.

A freestanding tub is a bathtub designed to stand alone in the bathroom, not attached to a wall or built into an alcove. These tubs can come in various shapes, sizes, and designs, from traditional clawfoot tubs to modern, minimalist designs. 

Garden tubs are larger and deeper than many standard freestanding tubs, offering a more immersive and comfortable bathing experience.

Garden Tub Vs. Clawfoot Tub

claw foot bathtub

Although a typical clawfoot tub is a type of freestanding tub, it would not be considered a garden tub, since it typically isn’t larger than a standard tub.

However, there are extra large contemporary versions of the clawfoot tub. For example, the extra wide cast iron clawfoot tub could be considered a garden tub.

Garden Tub Vs. Japanese Soaking Tub

Japanese Soaking Tub

A Japanese soaking tub lets the bather soak up to their neck while sitting on an interior seat and is modeled after the ‘ofuro’ tub which is round.

A garden tub, though, is typically oval or rectangular in shape and lets the bather fully immerse their body while lying down.

Garden Tub Vs. Jetted Tub

jetted bathtub

A jetted tub, also known as a whirlpool tub or a jacuzzi, is a bathtub that uses water jets or air jets to create a massaging effect. The jets can be adjusted to control the intensity of the massage and provide a therapeutic benefit. 

A garden tub may or may not have jets, but it will always be larger than a regular alcove tub, allow the bather to submerge their whole body, and will have a significant, eye-catching design.

Garden Tub Pros And Cons

Every tub design has benefits and drawbacks that make them perfect for certain applications but less suitable for applications where the tub’s features can act as limitations.

Benefits Of A Garden Tub

Extra large silver bathtub with white insides. Bathtub is against marble wall and on a white floor.
See the beautiful 73″ CoreAcryl WHITE French Bateau Acrylic Skirted Tub from Baths of Distinction

There are several benefits of garden tubs that make these tubs popular for homeowners seeking to enhance their bathtub experience or add value to their homes.

1. Garden Tubs Provide Better Aesthetics

Garden tubs are often more visually appealing than regular alcove tubs. Their elegant design and freestanding nature can serve as a focal point in the bathroom, adding a touch of luxury, sophistication, and panache to the space.

2. Garden Tubs Offer More Comfort

Due to the design feature of larger sizes and deeper interiors, garden tubs offer a more comfortable, relaxing, and luxurious bathing experience. They allow for full-body immersion, and many models come with built-in seating areas or armrests for added comfort.

3. Versatility Of Placement For Garden Tubs

Garden tubs are versatile in terms of placement. Unlike regular tubs that need to be installed against a wall, garden tubs can be placed anywhere in the bathroom, giving you more freedom in your bathroom layout and design.

4. A Garden Tub Adds Value To Your Home

Installing a garden tub can potentially increase the value of your home. Many home buyers view garden tubs as a luxury feature, making your property more appealing in the real estate market.

5. Garden Tubs Have Therapeutic Value

The depth and spaciousness of garden tubs allow for a more immersive soaking experience, which adds therapeutic value to the bathing experience.

Soaking in a tub with warm water is known to provide many benefits, including relieving muscle tension, reducing stress, and promoting relaxation.

6. More Customization Options With Garden Tubs

Garden tubs often come with more customization options than regular tubs. You can choose a garden tub made of various materials, styles, and features to create a tub that suits your needs and preferences perfectly.

Some garden tubs even offer specialized features like built-in speakers, chromotherapy lighting, or adjustable jets for a truly personalized bathing experience.

Drawbacks Of A Garden Tub

grey bathtub with marble

Every bathtub design has some drawbacks that result in the tub being inappropriate for certain situations, bathroom designs, personal preferences, or limiting factors.

1. Garden Tubs Require A Lot of Space

Garden tubs are larger than regular tubs and require more space in the bathroom. This can be a drawback in smaller bathrooms where space is at a premium.

2. Garden Tubs Are Expensive

Garden tubs are typically more expensive than regular alcove tubs, both in terms of the price of the garden tub itself and the installation cost. They may also require more water to fill, which could increase your water bill.

3. Maintenance Requirements For Garden Tubs

Due to their size and design, garden tubs are more difficult to clean compared to regular tubs. These tubs may also require more maintenance over time, particularly if they include additional features like jets.

4. Access Difficulties For Garden Tubs

Due to their depth and design, garden tubs are more difficult to enter and exit compared to regular tubs. This could pose a challenge for individuals with mobility issues or families with young children.

5. No Shower Provision In Garden Tubs

Unlike some regular tubs that come with a built-in shower, garden tubs are primarily designed for soaking.

If you prefer taking quick showers or if you need a tub-shower combo for versatility, a garden tub might not be the best choice.

6. Garden Tubs Use More Water

Because garden tubs use more gallons of water than a standard alcove tub, there is much great water usage as well. Unless you are recycling your bath water to reuse for your garden or to fill your toilet, then your garden tub will likely be less environmentally friendly than other tub types.

Summary Of Garden Tub Pros And Cons

The below table gives a summary of the pros and cons of garden tubs as a convenient quick reference for these eye-catching tubs!

BenefitsDrawbacks
Better aestheticsGarden tubs need a lot of space
More comfortableMore expensive than most other tub types
Versatility of placementMore frequent and more complex maintenance
Adds value to your homeEntering and exiting garden tubs is more difficult
Offer therapeutic valueNo provision for a shower
More customization options are availableUse more water

How To Accessorize Or Enhance Your Garden Tub Experience

extra-wide cast iron soaking tub

Several accessories can be added to your garden tub to enhance the mood or promote relaxation and comfort while enjoying some me-time during your bath.

  • A bath tray or caddy. A bath tray or caddy is a great accessory for a garden tub. It can hold your book, tablet, or a glass of wine while you soak. Some even have spots for candles or a place to rest your phone.
  • Bath pillows. A bath pillow can enhance your comfort during a soak. Bath pillows come in several shapes and sizes and can support your neck and back. Look for one that’s easy to clean and has a non-slip design.
  • Bath salts, oils, and bombs. Enhance your bathing experience with bath salts, oils, or bath bombs. They can add a pleasant aroma to your bath, soften the water, and even provide therapeutic benefits.
  • Waterproof Bluetooth speaker. If you enjoy relaxing to music or podcasts while bathing, consider investing in a waterproof Bluetooth speaker. You can place it safely on your bath tray or nearby shelf.
  • Candles. Candles can create a relaxing ambiance. Scented candles can also add a pleasant aroma to your bathroom. Just make sure to place them safely away from any flammable items.
  • Towel warmer. A towel warmer can provide a touch of luxury. There is no better feeling to round off your bath than by wrapping up in a warm, soft towel after a relaxing soak.
  • Plants. Plants can enhance the ambiance and add a touch of nature to your bathroom and improve the air quality. Choose plants that thrive in humid conditions, like ferns or peace lilies.
  • Bath mat. A plush, comfortable bath mat can enhance your comfort when you step out of the tub. It also helps to prevent slips on a wet floor.
  • Shower curtain or screen. If your garden tub includes a shower, consider adding a stylish shower curtain or screen. It can enhance the decor of your bathroom and provide privacy.
  • Artwork. Consider hanging some artwork near your garden tub. It adds class and a personal touch, making your bathing experience more enjoyable. Just make sure it’s suitable for a humid environment.

Remember, the goal is to create a relaxing and enjoyable atmosphere that enhances your bathing experience. Choose accessories that suit your personal style and needs.

Should You Invest In A Garden Tub?

Who should have a bath with clay.

Garden tubs can be a great addition to your bathroom if you value luxury, comfort, and aesthetics. They provide a spa-like experience right at home and can elevate the overall design of your bathroom.

However, they do require more space, cost, and maintenance compared to regular tubs. Therefore, it’s important to consider your specific needs, preferences, and available bathroom space before deciding to install a garden tub.

If you decide this tub is right for your home, the relaxing and luxurious soaks you’ll enjoy in your garden tub could very well make it worth the investment.

Tags: benefits of a garden tub, drawbacks of a garden tub, garden tub, garden tub accessories, soaking bathtub, what is a garden tub

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