Charlie: I’m Charlie Albone and welcome to Episode Seven of Season Two of That’s How We Grow in partnership with Stihl Garden Power Tools. If you’ve been enjoying the season so far, be sure to leave a rating and share the series with your friends who are passionate about gardening. On this episode, we’re going to chat about designing a beautiful garden space around the great Australian backyard pool.

Australians love to make a splash in their backyard and for this you need to consider the best ways to plant around your pool, to have a great looking garden. It’s no secret that in Australia pools are a staple of many backyards.

An estimated 3.3 million Australians have a pool in their back garden. But whether it’s a pool or any other feature in your backyard, there are plenty of things to consider when planning your landscape.

Anyone who has a pool will understand the work needed to keep the leaves and the dirt out, so planning an appropriate garden will prevent this work. I’ll be joined today by one of Australia’s leading garden and pool designers, Tristan Peirce. He’s based in Perth and he loves designing a garden featuring an amazing pool. We’re going to be discussing what needs to be considered when planning a garden around a swimming pool, some of our favourite plants to use around a pool and how your garden can complement your swimming pool.

The design and build of a pool can be a major project in itself, and I’m looking forward to hearing from Tristan on how we can make this as smooth as possible. The design and build of a pool can be a major project in itself. So get your togs on or find a comfy place to sunbathe, and let’s jump into the deep end!

My next guest is someone I’m really excited to introduce to you all. I have been following his work on Instagram for quite some time and I’m really looking forward to putting a face and the voice to this amazing work. He’s based in Western Australia, landscape architect Tristan Peirce, welcome to the show.

Tristan: Thanks for having me, Charlie! Nice to meet you.

Charlie: You too. Can you tell me a little bit about what you do and how you got into landscape, landscape design and architecture?

Tristan: We’re a team of two landscape architects that design single residential landscapes and pools in Perth. I studied landscape architecture at university, and the reason I sort of went down that path was I always have had a passion for art and nature, and it was sort of seemed logical that the two went together and, you know, and I was basically able to do that day in, day out and really enjoy it.

Charlie: So as I mentioned, your Instagram is so strong, you’ve got a real look to your landscape architecture. There’s often a lot of curves in your swimming pools, there’s a lot of greenery. How did you develop that? How did you develop your own look?

Tristan: I think probably evolved over time and the curves is definitely something that is often bought up by our clients and it hasn’t actually been that intentional. I suppose we just feel like it flows really well with the, you know, being curved and a lot of architecture is quite… Well, naturally quite square and floor plan. And for us to be able to move into nature and introduce a few sort of gentle curves has been something that we’ve, we’ve really enjoyed and it’s been, you know, valuable to be able to, to put forward our designs in 3D as well so people can sort of see that.

Tristan: And on Instagram, you know, that’s, largely what we, we present, we sort of present concepts and ideas and to deliver them through 3D fly throughs and 3D renders is, you know, is a really powerful way to communicate.

Charlie: If you were to describe your garden style, would you, would you be able to put a label on it?

Tristan: I think we at times get called contemporary. However, I’d probably… I would hope to think that we have a quality of landscape that underpins what we do and our style somewhat shifts and moves with the architecture as well as the client’s kind of desires as to what kind of garden they like.

We’re sort of doing a, you know, some of the architectural ones that we do that call for a bit more of a rigid kind of structure to sort of relate, relate to the architecture of the home.

So yeah, it may be contemporary.

Charlie: I would say it was contemporary. However, you have such great success with your planting that it stops it from being an extension of architecture and a real celebration of the landscape.

Tristan: Yeah, and I think that sometimes plants can be used to, to break it down a little bit and, you know, lap over the sort of the geometry of the design. So you do break the sort of, circular or the more of a square line with detail planting in the right areas.

Charlie: So when you’re designing for a client, what of the biggest constraints you have? Is it around construction principles or is it around the client wanting certain things? Is it the soil, perhaps?

Tristan: Yeah, I think there’ll be definitely a number of things that are considered. There’ll be council requirements – there’ll be likely a sewer easement that that is on site where we need to avoid the proximity to that. There’ll be a coastal or – sorry environmental conditions. So if the, if it’s a project right on the coast in Perth, we need to adapt to that with that plant pallet. And yeah, there’s, there’s probably quite a lot and there’s also council and regulations and Australian standards that, you know, where you know pretty well. So you can’t, we can’t do it naturally now, but there’s certainly things that we would consider with every project.

Charlie: So do you normally work with architects to get in on these projects or do you do you work with people that are renovating that sort of thing? Who’s your sort of client base?

Tristan: Yeah, we work with architects. We work with a broad range of people. There’s a few builders that we consistently do projects for, and there’s also the direct relationship, direct to client relationship. We definitely always like to maintain that because we do feel that, you know, all of our projects about are about people fundamentally and how they want to live. So to get to know them throughout our design process is really important. And even when we are know, like I said, working with architects and builders, it really comes back to establishing a really good relationship with a client to understand what they really like in their project.

Charlie: And what they’re trying to achieve and how they want to, I guess, use the space to change the way that they’re living their lives at the moment. Which is the nice thing about landscaping, isn’t it? You really do make an impact on someone’s just wellbeing.

Tristan: Absolutely. And I think it’s sort of it’s also done through architecture and then, you know, just it’s really furthering that process. And in Australia and in particular Perth, it’s just becoming more the norm and it’s, it’s really important to sort of drag people outside and, you know, get them to appreciate nature and get away from, you know, technology to a degree and, you know, communicate with people again.

Charlie: You mentioned you’re in Perth. That’s a very different climate to so much of Australia. How do you find it gardening there and, you know, creating spaces in that climate?

Tristan: Yeah, it it’s definitely different, but I suppose I’ve always grown up with it, so

I’m quite accustomed to what our sort of what our climate demands. And it’s very dry, so very free draining soils, eastern states is more of a clay soil and we’ve got a very sandy soil. So the planting and soil preparation and, you know, irrigation needs to be sufficient to all come together to produce a successful garden.

Charlie: Yes. Yeah, it’s looking at it holistically, isn’t it? You can’t just expect to find a nice plant, put it in the ground and expect it to grow. You’ve got to do the soil preparation, you’ve got to have the irrigation and you’ve got to understand what kind of maintenance you can give a space.

If push comes to shove on a project and the budget starts creeping up, we probably suggest to downscale the plants, but don’t skimp on the soil prep and right, because that’s something you can’t really do very well after the fact. So if you’ve the foundations of a project, and getting that right is extremely important.

So how do you improve your very sandy soils? Is it organic matter and compost? Or have you got any other tips and tricks?

Tristan: We previously have done more of a sort of the remove 100 mill, and put another 100 mill of soil conditioner, organic, soil conditioner in but, we’ve moved more towards a concentrate, so it actually requires less soil to be taken off site and the high concentrate is mixed in with the existing soil to improve it. Organic is extremely important because it remains in the soil.

It’s definitely been a bit of a game changer to get that right, has definitely delivered really successful projects.

Charlie: Yeah. Do you have problems with hydrophobia where you just cannot get water into the soil?

Tristan: Yeah. Yeah. There’s certain areas of Perth, mainly coastal because it’s a limestone sort of soil base where you can actually just see it, you can actually put water on the, on the soil and then, and it just actually beads like it does, you know, on a painted surface. So it’s quite amazing actually.

Charlie: It looks like mercury, doesn’t it, on the soil.

Tristan: Yeah, it’s crazy.

Charlie: On your Instagram, you have some absolutely incredible looking projects. And as you mentioned, a lot of them do incorporate a swimming pool. Is that driven by the clients or is that something that you sort of push yourself?

Tristan: I think it’s probably…Naturally evolved. I really have an interest in pools, but I haven’t really consciously gone about it that way. I definitely have an interest in in, you know, the broader landscape and how connecting areas of the home… And, you know, if there’s a dead spot in the garden, you know, we introduce a space that is kind of, it attracts people to it. So a pool is one of those items that will certainly attract people out there. And, you know, connecting the pool to the broader landscape in the home is pretty much what we try to achieve.

Charlie: So I know that gardening around a swimming pool can be quite messy sometimes. Do you have any tips and tricks for keeping leaves and debris out of a swimming pool?

Tristan: Yeah, I think it would definitely come down to a number of things. Plant selection would be something that really needs to be considered. We would also drop our soil levels around the paved surfaces at the adjacent to pools, so typically by about 50 ml. So if leaves and debris do fall, they’ll remain within the garden beds and not spill over into the pool.

Charlie: That’s interesting you say that. So then mulch will stay in the pool. And I guess any excess water that moves away from the pool because you can’t have groundwater moving into a pool, then collects in the garden beds and it sort of doesn’t wash back into the swimming pool.

Tristan: Well, it’s basically, it’s a really good one, actually. So if you know, if you have a few, you know, you’re naturally going to get leaf litter over time. And yeah, if it’s sort of falling, you know, onto the pavement, hopefully it’ll get blown into the garden bed or if it’s falling into the garden, but it doesn’t actually overflow and come out and, you know, go into the pool.

Charlie: Is there any time when you turn up and the client is desperate for a swimming pool and it’s just not the right situation, there’s overhanging trees like a jacaranda, for example, which would be a nightmare around the swimming pool. And you just say you can’t have one.

Tristan: I think you need to be really honest. And, you know, we’re pretty conscious of that. So if something’s not going to work spatially or if there’s, you know, like you say, if there’s a massive jacaranda there and it’s going to, over time, really, really drive them nuts, we would certainly bring it up. And, you know, it’s probably a responsibility of ours to make sure that we’re, you know, being really considerate to make sure the clients end up with the product that they’re hoping to end up with.

Charlie: And that’s one of the benefits of using a professional I guess, they’re not emotionally tied to the space and they don’t have ideas that are driving them from other sources. So I guess you can go in and tell them exactly how it is

Tristan: Exactly right. And, you know, we’re selling, you know, well, we’re not selling a product as such, so we’re not selling a pool. So, you know, we just want to make sure that the clients, you know, get the right outcome. And if, you know, a pool isn’t something that’s going to work there, there’ll be alternatives that we can discuss.

Charlie: Do roll out covers help, with keeping debris off water, or are they just a nuisance because you’ve got to roll them up and then they get all the leaves collected in the cover?

Tristan: Yeah, that sort of work sort of temporarily to a degree, in that respect. So you find that when you do take them off the leaves to actually go into the pool. The benefit of them though would be in Perth, particularly about the water evaporation. So yeah, just, reducing that, and also probably from a heating the pool perspective, they are quite good for that as well.

Charlie: I think having a landscape designer in that process is a great way to understand exactly what you can and can’t do in a garden space.

Tristan: Yeah, absolutely. I think you’re definitely going to achieve a much better result by having someone of that skill set involved. Just like anything you do, if there’s a, you know, a professional service that can assist you in getting that ultimate design or, you know, whatever it might be as a lawyer or a doctor, you know, there’s that skill set that you got your lean on when you need it. And it’s not, not similar with, you know, achieving a fantastic landscape.

Charlie: Yeah, I think what people need to understand when they’re involving a landscape designer as well as is, they don’t have all the answers for you. They’re there to help you create your own space and draw out exactly what you want from the space. But just make sure it’s done properly so you don’t end up with any, you know, mistakes at the end.

Tristan: Yeah, and I think that’s really important too, to make sure that the designer… It’s their responsibility to listen to the client. And like I said a bit earlier, that, you know, actually understand the client and what they’re after, and then use your professional skill set to deliver a project that they love, but is a little bit more than what they might have been able to achieve independently.

Charlie: Yeah, absolutely. And I think a lot of people get scared off by plants and that’s where they lean on a landscape designer or a landscape architect for that kind of information. I guess planting around a swimming pool can be quite tricky in so many ways because you’ve got the water coming out of the pool, you’ve got the rain water, the pool water has often got some chemicals in it. How do you, how do you pick plants around a swimming pool?

Tristan: Yeah, I think probably through experience, there will definitely be a few plants that unfortunately we have used, or I have used throughout my career, and they definitely have not survived with the level of chlorine around the pool! So we would make sure that they are a little bit tolerant of those conditions. And also the other thing would be worth thinking about is how these plants are going to be maintained and how do you do that?

Charlie: Yeah. So I guess when you’re talking to the client, you have to understand the amount of maintenance they can give to a space. And realistically, are they going to have to get someone in to help them? And what plants do you put around the, the pool, you know, large conifer hedges or something that, that drops a lot of flowers or seeds or something might not be the best choice.

Tristan: Yeah. And trees, you know, what sort of trees you’re putting around the pool. Because if you put a fine leaf tree that drops its leaves into the pool, it can it can do a bit of damage, or not damage, but that could just clogs up their filtration system. So you might you find yourself using trees that have a bigger leaf and hopefully drop less leaf litter.

Charlie: What are your top trees around a swimming pool?

Tristan: Oh, well, look, it’s a bit of a cliché one, but the Frangipani is very widely used because of the broader leaf. And I know it’s a deciduous tree, but, you know, there’s one that’s an evergreen, but it’s a deciduous tree, but at least it just drops once a year. So it’s not a bad option. The other trees I like is the Tristaniopsis, which is a Kanooka. Okay, so it’s, it’s a PBR, so I don’t know if you have it over there, but it’s a great evergreen tree. It’s a relatively small tree. And it’s a great sort of option for residential projects.

Charlie: Yeah, absolutely. We use the variety “Luscious”quite a lot, which has that lovely white trunk to it and black tips to the leaves, but really glossy, evergreen, really, really good tree. So that is good for around the swimming pool.

Tristan: Yeah. And, and it’s interesting, like I’ve got them at my own house and I think that’s a great way to explore, if you are designing it, to explore trees that you’re putting the projects yourself in. You know, I’ve got a heap of plants, the tester plots in my verge that I test out and sort of observe how they grow. So, you know, designing on a piece of paper and then putting them in the first day, everything looks great. You just want to make sure, in my opinion, that, you know, landscaping a garden last, you know, a period of time.

So it’s always looking good going forward. So yeah, definitely one worth considering.

Charlie: Yeah. They’re a living breathing thing and yes, they’re supposed to look good when they’re finished, when all the workmen come off site, but in two years they’re supposed to look better than that and then in five years they’re supposed to look even better. They’re one of those things that just gets better with time, and that only comes from picking the right plants for the right spot. You don’t want to be fighting these things and you can get it wrong by putting, you know, big trees in small spaces and all that sort of stuff. Yeah.

Tristan: We have got it wrong in the past! And, you know, I think you have to accept that sometimes things don’t work for some weird reason and sometimes I have never found out. But, you know, obviously rule of thumb, we would just know what is going to work and just make sure it’s not going to drive people nuts with root systems or getting too big, like you say. And it’s definitely worth making sure you consider all of that.

Charlie: And you mentioned you love getting out in the in the garden yourself and doing a bit of hedge trimming. I’m a huge fan of the Stihl battery stuff. Are you using battery or are you still petrol?

Tristan: Yeah, I definitely use the battery powered tools. It’s a bit safer for me. I’m not, you know, being a designer, I’m, you know, my handy-man (skills) are quite limited, but, you know, there’s just so easy to use and, you know, there’s no cords. You can go anywhere and, you know, they’re just so convenient where you can just swap the battery over to the next piece of equipment to keep going.

Charlie: I’m a huge fan of just the fact you can press a button and it’s turned on and you and you know, you remove that whole trying to start the engine. It’s a great, great benefit to every gardener! When you’re planning a swimming pool and there are, say, trees overhanging something like that, do you try and reduce those trees back to keep them away from the water surface? Or is it just something you have to live with?

Tristan: Yeah, look, absolutely! I think, you know, if you can sort of, you know, balance that out with shade versus maintenance. So, you know, it’s always worthwhile. So if we need to sort of, you know, get in there and take a bit out, you know, there’s some great sort of top trimmers that will be used to cut some branches back here and there.

Charlie: When you’re pruning a tree, you really need to consider about the obviously the benefits of reducing it back, but also take in the consideration the aesthetics of it as well. You don’t want to have a lopsided tree, for example, so, you know, only reduce back, I guess what you have to.

Tristan: Absolutely and always, a horticulturist told me he wants to trim it, and then step right back, and have a look at it — and then go back and do the next branch. So it’s super important to do that so it doesn’t look… So it still looks natural. And obviously it’s done in best horticultural practices as well.

Charlie: Yeah, absolutely. I mean it does grow back, but it takes a long time to grow back. So it’s much easier to take it slow, reduce it slowly. And like you said, just keep standing back and taking a look at it. Yeah. When it comes to planting up, I noticed on a lot of your jobs and we’ve mentioned it about using the pool wall as the fence, and you almost have like a motive for planting around the pool. That would obviously get quite a lot of splash from when kids and people jump in the pool and stuff like that. But the planting has to stay low so you can’t climb on it to make it compliant with pool fencing regulations.

What sort of low plants do really well in those kind of chlorine-y type situations?

Tristan: Yeah, we’re probably used a few Lomandras in the past, so they seem to cope really well. Obviously, it’s extremely important to not have any plants that ever become flammable. So, so you’re spot on with that. We don’t do as many we don’t do many overflow pools. We actually have pools that have got an edge to them, and they also have a capping, so the water doesn’t come out as much as possible. But yes, it’s things like Dianella and Lomandras that will be commonly used for trenches.

If we’ve got a bit of shade, we’ll use something like the Philodendron Xanadu. That actually works brilliantly actually, but if it’s in Perth, if it gets too sunny into sunny a spot, it’ll tend to get a little bit burnt.

Yeah it’s pretty bulletproof the Xanadu isn’t it. You can use it in so many locations. We mentioned that a lot of the water is got chlorine in it. Do you ever put in magnesium pools or, or sort of freshwater pools, anything like that?

Uh, we do. We probably often use ozone, which is a lower level of chlorine for pools for some people and the naked pool system. So there’s definitely a few ins and outs. We also make sure that we work with a pool builder to also listen to them and what their preferences is because they often have their preferred option. And we sort of understand that and, you know, collaborate with them. So we don’t sort of profess to know all about that sort of thing. But the naked pool system has been something we’ve used for a long time, less chlorine. People really like, you know, get out with less chlorine on them. And we’re just actually delving into well, we just started the design of our first natural splash living pool.

So that’s something that I’ve seen quite popular over East and it hasn’t been a great deal of it in Perth. But it’s, you know, it’s really exciting to sort of do something a little bit different.

Charlie: Yeah, they are really exciting aren’t they? I mean, they use them in Europe, they’ve used them for, for ages where it’s basically two swimming pools isn’t it. One that you swim in. And then that water gets pumped into the second pool and going through natural reed beds before it gets pumped back into the big pool. So you get… It’s like swimming in in a freshwater lake almost.

Tristan: Yeah. And it kind of kind of makes a lot of sense really. And obviously, I daresay it’s a lot more environmentally friendly. So, you know, it’s something that we would like to develop our skills in that area and hopefully take that forward.

Charlie: Yeah. The downside is the space needed for two pools and obviously the costs involved with those. But yeah, I think it’s going to be seen a lot more moving forward. But we’ve spoken quite a bit about swimming pools. How do you incorporate a swimming pool into a garden, you know, without it taking over and, and the space still feeling like a sort of sanctuary getaway, great green area.

Tristan: Yeah. I think that’s extremely important to do that and also to give it enough breathing room around the pool so just so you can have a lush backdrop to it. So I think, we try to link it visually. So when you’re mud-mapping it, we design in 3D, we go straight into 3D when we design, but also we really think about how you can view the different activation areas from each individual space and link them together and get those proportions right.

So you don’t have one massive alfresco in a small pool or, you know, vice versa. You want to make sure each area is liveable. We place furniture within, you know, indicative furniture, within these spaces, people, you know, we’ve got little blocks that we place into our models, 3D models, so we can kind of gauge how these spaces are going to feel. So it’s largely about proportion and, you know, sort of it’s a little bit innate, you know, I think that’s definitely something that I’ve got quite naturally.

But, you know, you always develop those things and, you know, just, you know, when you walk out in the space that’s been constructed, you sort of feel how that space is going to work. And, you know, it’s probably something that you train. So you might it’s largely proportions, I suppose.

Charlie: Yeah. And I guess that comes with experience, doesn’t it? You can, you can draw something, but until you see it built and move around the space, you don’t really get to feel it. So do you ever design for maintenance of a garden or is it just aesthetics?

Tristan: Oh, absolutely. I think maintenance is really important. It’s a balancing act, as I’m sure you know, to make sure that the garden is relatively easily maintained, but also is looking the part or looking at how the client would like it to look. So we would actually use a lot of border hedges. And the word hedges sometimes freaks people out a little bit. But when I say hedges, I probably mean a green screen, something like, I don’t know if you have Viburnum suspensum over there, but that’s probably one of my favourite plants, and it’s a bit of a loose kind of hedge.

So when you do maintain it, you can just use a trimming wand. And I’ll probably do it at our house about once every 6 to 8 weeks. So it’s actually not as hard as people might think. So we definitely have that as a backdrop and then probably we would clump some plants sort of like together. So they’ve kind of got similar hydro and similar maintenance sort of requirements.

Charlie: Yes. So by doing that, you limit the amount of maintenance that’s needed and you’ve got more time enjoying the space. Yeah, absolutely. With hedging, it’s interesting, you say that it’s more of a green screen. You know, most people think of that tightly clipped, formal, almost European look with a hedge, but they can be lovely, loose, green, green backdrops. And with that, I guess you get more flowering, you get better bird life in there and you get a softer look, don’t you?

Tristan: Absolutely. I prefer it. I think that it still looks structured, but it’s just a slightly more relaxed kind of setting look. And I think that’s just a matter of opinion. I don’t think everybody would necessarily share that opinion, but it’s sort of something that I, I probably prefer to see in our gardens.

Charlie: Is there anything, anything you see in the sort of landscape industry, landscape design industry that’s really coming forward at the moment? By that, I don’t like to ask the question “What sort of trends do you see coming up?” Because I think it’s all about what the client wants. But is there anything that you’ve noticed with your clients that is, you know, a theme that’s running through, and that people really like to see in their gardens?

Tristan: I think something that I’ve observed, or when we’re sort of working towards is probably bringing some more natives native plants into our plant palette as well as drought tolerant plants. There’s quite a few exotic plants that are actually quite drought tolerant. So I think that’s what we’re trying to mix our planting palette up a little bit more to sort of just to be a bit more environmentally responsible and, you know, still have a great garden.
And, you know, it’s a bit of an education kind of thing for ourselves and clients to, you know, move towards being a bit more environmentally sustainable. So the plant palette is certainly one that is continually evolving.

Charlie: Do most of your clients do the maintenance themselves or to your firm do that, or do you use a subcontractor to. Do that

Tristan: We’re just landscape architects, so there’s myself and another landscape architect that work together. So we pair up with we’ve got a horticulturist that I used to work with that maintains a lot of our client’s gardens. There’s a few that do it themselves, but a large contingent of our clients are pretty, pretty busy people. So they definitely get the assistance of a landscape maintenance consultant.

Charlie: I think when you’re working around a pool, especially if you’re uncomfortable using a long handled hedge trimmer or battery powered hedge trimmer, if you’re uncomfortable with it, then yes, get a professional in to help you. But I find with a lot of my clients, they let us do that sort of stuff, but then they want to do the pottering around, you know, little bit of waiting, a bit of pruning, that sort of stuff. So they feel connected. Yeah.

Tristan: And I think that’s really nice, you know, for people to own the garden in a kind of, you know, sort of I’ve learnt over time, you know, having a bit of a commercial background as well where people, you know, ownership of spaces is really important. So if you can give them a hand with the fertilising or the horticultural side of things and leave a little bit to them, I think you’ll find that the garden over time, they’ll love it and it’ll, it’ll do really well.

Charlie: Yeah, absolutely. An interesting one when you- sorry to keep going back to pools, but when you’re picking a colour for a pool, the colour of the water can, can really impact on the space. And it’s quite strange isn’t it. Using a light tile will give you sort of a blue-y kind of colour. How do you work the colour of the pool water into your designs? And how do you sort of explain that to your clients on how that works?

Tristan: Yeah, it’s extremely difficult and I’m continually surprised by how much different a tile looks in and out of the water of the water. So probably some past projects is really useful to show people, you know, that kind of glacier blue that you get from a white tile. And obviously the 3D rendering software we have, we can change that with a few clicks of a button so we can, in a way- we’re fortunate enough to be able to show clients how it looks. And then also at different times of the day with different lights and cloud cover and sun, it’s amazingly different. So we probably, I think we select them a little bit on client preference, but if we have a… There’s one way of doing that which is on Swan River and it’s an infinity pool.

Tristan: So what we’re trying to achieve with that one is blending that into the colour of the river. And you know, so as you look out over it, it seamlessly kind of connects to the river. We’re hoping to use a really dark tile for that project so we can actually kind of start to nestle the pool into the broader river. So it’s, you know, you don’t get the opportunity very often to do that in Perth. So we’re hoping that’s how that one will go forward.

Charlie: Yeah, a nice reflective sort of quality to the water is always a nice touch. It sounds like you’ve worked on some pretty spectacular landscapes and gardens! Do you have a favourite?

Tristan: I think yeah… Oh, yes or no, I’ve got a few that I love going back to because the clients, they pretty much trusted us to go, to be professionals and get the outcome that we needed. So there was a little bit of, hey, this is what we want, and then it was hands off the wheel. So there’s a couple I’ll go back to. We end up pretty much, you know I really luckily friends with a lot of our clients and you know they’ve had us back for barbecues and so forth with our families, which is really, really nice.

And yeah, there’s definitely a couple that I’ll go back to and it’s sort of somewhat about the garden, somewhat about the friendship that you form, which makes it really, really nice to go back to.

Charlie: Yeah, that’s one of the benefits of the job, isn’t it? You mentioned that you grow things in your verge to kind of trial them, before you put them into a landscape with your own garden. Is that something you do just on the verge or do you find yourself tinkering in the, in the main garden and replacing things…And you know, how does your own garden work?

Tristan: Our garden is probably… I did it ten years ago, so it’s actually quite green on green. And it was probably where I was at that time. So there’s lots of Bob in my Mariah and Star Jasmine and Miss Muffet and Citrus. I love citrus as a tree. So that was probably, you know, and once it’s in, you know, it’s in and mature, but it’s given us a great deal of sort of privacy and greenery from the windows. So I think it would be interesting, you know, in the next garden that I do for us would be likely to be quite, quite a bit more mixed up.

So our verges quite sort of mixed up because I’m trialling a lot of stuff, but it’s still composed. But yeah, the broader gardens, a bit more like,

Tristan: yeah, layers of green on green really.

Charlie: Sounds like a lot of clippings. You get out there yourself and prune or?

Tristan: Yeah, I do, look I’ll probably, I’ll do it a bit, but it’s actually not like I said, it’s not it’s not as much as people might think and depends on how quickly you want it. So, you know, I definitely I’ve just got, you know, a battery operated wand and that that comes out and, you know, it’s actually and you know, because I’m talking to people and, you know, working quite a lot, it’s really nice to be able to get out and mow the lawn. And, you know, I really enjoy sort of doing the gardening because it just gives me a bit of, you know, a bit of quiet time to sort of, you know, just have a bit of downtime.

Charlie: Absolutely, and battery power is a real game changer for people taking on their own, taking on their own gardens, if it comes to hedging, to mowing lawns, all that sort of stuff. It makes the quiet time even more quiet, you know, makes it a really enjoyable process.

Tristan: And it’s so convenient just having, you know, those sets of battery powered tools where you can just swap it straight in, straight out. And, you know, the technology these days is so good for those kind of, and you’ve got the skins that can just, you know, just grab them and off you go.

Charlie: Yeah, It’s nice to see everything’s moving a bit more environmentally friendly from tools all the way through to two swimming pools.

Tristan: Absolutely.

Charlie: But Tristan, it’s been great talking to you. Absolutely fantastic. It’s nice to put a face to the Instagram that I that I pore over most evenings and look at your landscape. I really love the work you do. So keep it up and thank you for joining us.

Tristan: Thanks very much, Charlie. Nice to meet you, too.

Charlie: So now it is time for me to answer some of your community questions. And Kelli from the Gold Coast asks Charlie, I love listening to the first season of your podcast. Thank you. No question, but I do like when you say things like that and we have a lawn near our pool with a line of pavers bordering them. When cutting the grass, some trimmings regularly get blown into the pool. Well, let me tell you what my mom did for me in 2016 at the Chelsea Flower Show. I had a lawn, a sunken lawn, and around the outside was a water rille. And my mom got on her hands and knees in the pouring rain and used a pair of scissors to keep all the edges nice and straight.

Now, I don’t suggest you do it with scissors, but if you do use some hand shears, that is a great way to cut the edge without it blowing into the swimming pool.

Jodi from Perth has emailed and asked. Hi Charlie. I recently moved from Sydney to Perth and I’ve noticed the soil in my garden is very different from heavy soil in Sydney. My new home is very sandy. Do you have any tips on how I should look after the soil, particularly for my vegie patch?

Well, let me tell you, the soil in Perth is generally pretty terrible. It’s very, very sandy, so incorporating lots of organic matter and lots of compost is a good way to improve the structure, but you need to be aware that it doesn’t become hydrophobic, which is where it cannot accept water.

If that happens, you need to add a wetting agent. You can spray that on or use a granule. For your veggie patch. You want to be adding lots and lots of organic matter and cow manure is the best thing you can add to a veggie patch. Make sure it’s well-rotted and you should have a great harvest. Do you have a gardening question you’d like me to answer? Well, send an email to and I’ll try and answer them in two weeks, which will be our last episode.

It was great to discuss designing a garden around water with Tristan, and there’s a lot more that needs to be considered than many people realise. So if you’re thinking of making the plunge and installing a pool or you want to refresh your garden around a pool, I think the biggest tip is talk to a qualified landscape designer. They’re going to help you maximise the full potential of your garden. You need to consider what type of water the pool will have and the impact it’s going to have on the surrounding garden. And it’s great to hear there’s a movement towards natural swimming pools. We also spoke about the amazing selection of plants you can have around the swimming pool to maximise your green whilst minimising your maintenance.

Well, thanks for listening to That’s How We Grow in partnership with Stihl Garden Power Tools. Do you need the tools to take on any garden challenge? Go to the Stihl website or hit your local Stihl dealer today. There are over 600 Stihl dealers across Australia and you can easily find your local dealer on the Stihl website. Don’t forget to check out Stihl’s blog with plenty of great gardening advice as well as many of my key seasonal tips and tricks. Be sure to go to Stihl’s blog.

Our next episode will be a bumper edition. My special guest will be the incredible garden designer Paul Bangay.

Paul is an amazing garden designer and I can’t wait to pick his brain on anything and everything to do with this. His incredible garden Stonefields in central Victoria is amazing. I can’t wait to chat with Paul, and this episode will drop in two weeks!

You can see Tristan Peirce’s wonderful work here, on his Instagram: tristan_peirce