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From new builds to renovations: creating beautiful residential landscape designs

Meet Tristan Peirce, a landscape architect that grew up in Perth and studied art throughout his schooling. After school and traveling around Europe, he returned home knowing a career in landscape architecture was the perfect fit. He completed his Bachelor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Western Australia in 2002 and quickly began his professional career with Blackwell & Associates Landscape Architects before relocating to Tim Davies Landscaping. Here, he discovered his passion for residential landscape design and moved into the position of Principal Landscape Architect to manage a multi-award-winning team. Now, he runs his own boutique residential landscape architecture firm, Tristan Peirce Landscape Architecture, and handles all aspects of the design to bring clients’ dreams into reality. 

creating beautiful residential landscape designs

Where do you get design inspiration from? How do you incorporate this inspiration into your designs?

I get my inspiration from art, nature, and other design professionals across various industries. I truly believe that design inspiration can be taken from any fieldarchitecture, industrial design, and urban design. I also look towards other leading landscape architects and designers for inspiration and provide my own interpretation of their designed solutions. (Shout out alert) Some of my favorite landscape architects and firms include Ben Scott Garden Design, Nathan Burkett, Secret Gardens, Luciano Giubbilei, and Andrea Cochran. I also take inspiration from top architects including Kennedy Nolan, Luigi Rosselli, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Luis Barragan.

Inspiration from natural elements

Inspiration from natural elements helps Tristan bring his designs up a notch.

What is your process when working with clients?

Nearly all of my projects are in the residential space and range from new builds to renovations. I have a strong interest in designing pools and spaces for people to spend their time together with their family and friends.

show-stopping residential landscape spaces
show-stopping residential landscape spaces

Designing comfortable, show-stopping residential landscape spaces.

My design process always begins with a client meeting to fully understand their outdoor living needs. Once we are on the same page, I launch into a two-stage process. The first part of this process includes modeling my design in 3D with SketchUp.

I have found my designs have improved significantly since using SketchUp with the ability to see it all in 3D.

Tristan's SketchUp models
Tristan's SketchUp models
Tristan's SketchUp models
Tristan's SketchUp models

Tristan's SketchUp models showcased his landscape design skills.

Then comes stage two of my process where I revert to 2D drawings to cover minor changes. This helps me communicate the right amount of detail to contractors for pricing and installation. These drawings provide an additional layer of detail and are broken down into specific scopes.

utilizing LayOut for 2D documentation
Stage two of the design process: utilizing LayOut for 2D documentation.

When starting a project with a client, what do you find the most challenging? How do you overcome those challenges?

I tend to be a designer that thinks a lot about a project before getting into the design. Giving a little time to think and resolve in my head first tends to be the best way to generate the best outcome for my projects. For example, it can be hard to communicate designs to clients. Since about 50% of my clients use the other side of their brain, I find 3D visualization extremely beneficial for communication. The ability to produce perspective stills as well as videos allows my clients to walk around the site with an iPad, locating themselves within their proposed landscape.

What’s your experience with SketchUp, and where do you find the most benefit of the software in your process?

When I first saw SketchUp I was blown away. I’d long had ideas in my head that I couldn’t express in a way I was happy with as I am not a strong hand sketcher.

As soon as I discovered SketchUp, I was immediately onboard and have since become a much better designer.

I can see the design from all angles and understand the construction of my designs much better. 

I normally use SketchUp during the initial design process. This is where I explore the spatial layouts of projects and start explaining the design to clients. As I mentioned earlier, a large proportion of my clients are in professions that use the other side of the brain, having the ability to show clients what I am thinking through a render or a video makes the process simple and informative.

The 3D Warehouse is another SketchUp product I find beneficial and helps speed up my design process. I use it primarily for foliage (plants and trees). There are a fair amount of USA trees and plants that I will use throughout designs and are very useful when presenting to clients.

Other tools I use to communicate my ideas include AR/VR. For AR/VR, I have used podium renderer, GPU Walker, and more recently Twinmotion to provide renders and videos for clients.


Backyard renovation and pool design fly through using Twinmotion.

What are some of your favorite projects and why?

One of my favorite projects was working with a client on a design for their backyard area. This design had to include a pool, structure, sunken seating area, and a garden for their young family. They were extremely trusting and were appreciative of the design and the quality contractors who constructed the work. The 3D design not only assisted the client but helped me visualize the spaces and proportions. The project was originally rendered in Podium and later in Twinmotion. For more projects and designs, check out my Instagram account.

3D design project
3D design project
3D design project
3D design project
3D design project

Wow! This has major vacation vibes and looks very relaxing!

Now, we have to ask...what’s your favorite SketchUp command?

Multiple copy when laying out my plants.

Try SketchUp out for your next landscape architecture project with a free 30-day trial.

About the Author

When Cara's not writing copy or learning about customer workflows, you can find her on top of a 14,000 ft mountain, hitting up those Colorado ski slopes, or binging Netflix shows on her couch.

Profile Photo of Cara Bell