Interview with Unique Environmental Landscapes Owner, Todd Guilmette

toddUnique Environmental Landscapes owner and founder, Todd Guilmette, always loved to get dirty, and he came by it naturally. In fact, his creativity and intimate understanding of plants, design and environment was honed at the hip of his mom and grandmother, both of whom were master gardeners.

“I was definitely digging in the dirt at an early age, and I had an appreciation for the outdoorsy kind of thing. Both my mom and grandmother were masters at this and passed that on to me,” Todd says. “It was really quite magical.”

Growing up, Todd’s family lived in Europe and that experience exposed him to every type of garden, both historical and contemporary. “Yes, when we lived in Europe that definitely influenced me,” he says. “How can you not be fundamentally touched by Holland in the spring when all of the bulbs are in bloom. You see exactly where those bulbs originate and it is, literally, miles of blooms. It’s like looking at a living painting.”

European gardens also provided the budding horticulturist with a view of how gardens evolve over time. Historical gardens at Versailles, which have been maintained over hundreds of years, helped him study how plants and landscapes can be updated and renovated, yet still maintain their historical integrity. “Looking at the grand historical gardens in Europe helped me understand what makes a design truly timeless and how meticulous standards can elevate a space from ordinary to extraordinary,”  Todd explains. “How can they continue to function in this way for so long? I wanted to learn more about that.”

European use of space also intrigued the young gardener. For example, in Germany, he learned creative ways to maximize the use of minimal space, viewing amazing gardens and landscapes in or around multifamily properties, townhomes, brownstones, village centers and apartments. He learned an important lesson early: it’s not the size of the space that is important, but the quality of the design. He applies this concept quite often in small spaces that he designs today. With houses getting larger and yards getting smaller, it’s a common request for landscape designers in the Atlanta area.

Growing up, art was also an influence, Todd says. “We were fortunate to visit the great museums of Europe and see the works of Monet, Renoir and others, all of which inspired me. How did he paint with color and texture? I also learned about history and style. All of these things influence landscape design.”

Later, photography also intrigued him, with its use of light and dark to create atmosphere . “Photography tells a story visually. Just as photography tells a story, a homeowner’s story informs landscape design, too. What am I seeing when I look outside from the inside? How about when I’m sitting outside in the space and looking in? Or looking around me? What physical objects do I see? How do I study the surroundings? It’s all a story.  Here at Unique Environmental Landscapes, we like to help our clients tell the story of the their family and showcase the family’s personality. Looking through their window into the outdoor space we want them to see their story reflected – like a painting or a great photograph. That’s what we try to develop during our design process.”

That design process has been honed over more than 25 years of design, installation and maintenance of amazing landscapes in the Atlanta metro area. Homeowners, HOAs and commercial or business owners benefit from Unique Environmental Landscape’s experienced staff.

“Our design process really does focus on story, personality and function,” Todd shares. “We collaborate together internally as well as with the owners. Everyone sees it differently. This design collaboration refines the end product. Even though you have a plan, there must be some ebb and flow to further refine the design. The outcome is always amazing.”

The genesis of each design process begins with questions – lots of questions, Todd says. “We want to know about the space, its intended use, the likes and dislikes of the owners. Many concrete questions are asked and we offer visuals to stimulate the creative process. Our goal is to always design and install the outdoor space of their dreams. Sometimes we have to help them articulate exactly what that dream might be.”

These days, Todd continues to gain inspiration not only from Unique Environmental’s many projects, but by taking time to visit the Botanical Gardens in Atlanta, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Show , gardens in Birmingham and visiting all sorts of nurseries – both on and off the beaten path. “It’s never-ending for me and I love it,” Todd says. “I’m constantly going to nurseries, tradeshows and even scouring the Internet to look at plants. Plants inspire landscapes; landscapes don’t inspire plants. Plants drive my creativeness. A wall is a wall, but the design and plants will make it unique and beautiful.”

Yes, at Unique Environmental Landscapes you receive more than just a design. It’s truly an expert collaboration of art and nature married to function.

For more information about Todd, the design process or to request a consultation, contact the landscape and maintenance professionals at Unique Environmental today.

Home and Garden Inspiration (VIDEO Collage)

Your summer and fall design inspiration starts right here at Unique Environmental Landscapes. Our booth at the 2014 Atlanta Home and Garden Show was wildly successful and hundreds of people from Marietta, Kennesaw, Decatur, Atlanta, Douglasville, Vinings and everywhere in between stopped by to say hi and to “ooooo” and “ahhhhh” over the gorgeous landscape.

You can have this, too! Give us a call after you are inspired.

2014 Atlanta Homeshow Showcased Our Landscape Designs – See the pic!

The 2014 Atlanta Homeshow was a huge success, with hundreds of Atlanta-area homeowners, property managers and business owners stopping by the Unique Environmental Concepts booth to ooooo and ahhhhh over our, well, unique display. The display was colorful and inspirational, drawing on a palette of vibrant colors, north Georgia friendly plant selections and soothing sounds of water. (See the pic below!)

Atlanta Landscape Design Show Collage1

Spring 2014 Atlanta Landscape Color Combinations – 2

Todd has pulled together yet another grouping of seasonal color combinations to keep your business or home looking fabulous.


Fresh color combinations can turn any area, whether home or business, into a showplace, creating a welcoming atmosphere and setting the stage for your visitors, family, customers, residents or employees to enjoy the outdoors.

This week, our custom Atlanta landscape color combination is vibrant with reds and yellows and is suitable for the full, hot Atlanta sun. (Click on the image for a larger view of the custom PDF) You may also check out our page on seasonal color for more information.

If you are ready to turn over the design, installation and maintenance of your business, POA, HOA or outdoor living area to inspired Atlanta designers, contact us today. We’re ready to help your dreams come true and to save you valuable time.


Atlanta Landscape Designer Launches Online Videos

Unique Environmental Landscapes is pleased to provide some insight into how they create such gorgeous landscapes, who is behind the designs, and what makes them different. Going forward, the Atlanta landscape design company will also provide short, informative videos to help commercial and residential clients learn more about various landscape elements.

Today’s video is a brief introduction to Todd Guilemette, the primary designer and President at Unique Environmental Landscapes. If you’d like to learn more about how they serve the Atlanta market with only the best in design, installation and maintenance, contact them today.

Unique plants for your winter landscape

Does your landscape needs some interest this winter? Try incorporating in these two shrubs and an evergreen perennial into your woodland landscape plantings.

Daphne odora is a classic southern fragrance.

Every southern landscape needs Daphne odora to welcome in the fragrance of winter. This evergreen flowering shrub creates a unique feature to your winter landscape, flowering from late January to early March, depending on weather conditions. Its fragrance summons the thoughts of what spring will be.

Daphne is a great plant for a woodland or shade garden, growing only 3 to 4 feet tall on maturity. Mixed in with plantings of hostas and other later spring blooming perennials, it creates a great seasonal mix for your pathways and woodland garden.

Need a winter flowering fragrant shrub for your landscape?

Think of planting Edgeworthia (Paper Bush) shrub. Edgeworthia flowers in the winter months and is a great woodland plant for your landscape. Mix them in with evergreen ferns or heuchera to create nice woodland plantings that are seasonally interesting.

Upside down tulip? No, it’s Hellebores.

Sometimes that’s what Hellebores (Japanese lantern) look like when they bloom. This winter blooming perennial is quite interesting for a woodland garden landscape. The blooms with shades of pink to white make up the color array of this hardy evergreen perennial. Incorporating again Hosta, evergreen ferns and Heuchera along with other early spring and summery perennials creates a long-lasting array of seasonal interest in your landscape.

Christmas trees can go to good use after the holidays?

Here are some tips for re-purposing a de-decorated tree:

Re-decorate the tree with treats for wild birds. Leave the tree in its stand or stand it in a large planter with rocks or sand to steady it. Put it on a deck, porch or patio and decorate it with orange halves, pine cones slathered with peanut butter, suet cakes and small bird feeders.

The tree can also gives shelter to small birds on those cold winter evenings. Once the tree has dried up and turned copper, it makes great kindling for your outdoor fire pit.

Remember, it’s not recommended to use your cut up Christmas tree in the house fireplace, as the pine pitch can become a problem in the chimney long-term.

Unique is Presented with Two Urban Ag Council Landscape Awards

Unique Environmental Landscapes will be presented with two Distinction Awards at the annual Urban Ag Council Awards Dinner this evening at the Gwinnett Center. The awards are both for residential landscape design/install projects completed by Unique. The first project in the ‘over $150k’ category is in Millen, Georgia where the client requested a tropical resort in their backyard. The other project in the ’75k – $150k’ category, is located in Kennesaw, Georgia. Please visit the Urban Ag website for a complete listing of all winners

Washington Hawthorn Makes a Super Ornamental Tree Choice

A Washington Hawthorn is an excellent ornamental tree that will bring spring color and winter brilliance to your landscape. The Washington Hawthorn is a mid-size tree that bears white flowers in the spring and boasts beautiful red berries throughout the fall and early winter months. Unique Environmental Landscapes chooses this tree for many Atlanta landscapes. Our clients love it.

Washington Hawthorn in December

A Ginkgo Biloba Tree Is a Great Shade Tree and Fall Color Addition

Noted for it’s outstanding brilliant yellow fall color, the Gingko tree is very tolerant and can withstand some pretty harsh conditions. The one thing that must be considered is soil drainage. The Gingko does not like standing water, it prefers a loamy or somewhat sandy soil. It is okay with short droughts, but NOT flooding. It likes a few hours of bright sunlight each day, too much shade could slow the tree’s growth which can grow to enormous heights. At first it grows very slowly and maybe a little crooked, no worries though, it will straighten out and pick up growth after several years.

Low maintenance – The Gingko needs minimal basic fertilization, maybe two times per year. A light layer of mulch at the beginning of each season is adequate. It requires very little pruning unless you want to ‘shape’ the branches which is best done in the spring.

The Gingko plant is readily available at most garden shops. You should know the female variety is fruit producing and this fruit can have a pungent odor. Removing the fruit immediately after it falls helps minimize this problem. Fall is a good time to plant the Gingko or almost any landscape material so it has time to get established before the heat of summer.

Spectacular fall color on a mature Ginkgo Tree

More Landscape Tips for your Atlanta Winter Landscape

If you follow our blog, you have noticed Unique is trying to encourage our readers to get moving on their landscape! If you’re not a do-it-yourself type, by all means call Unique Environmental Landscapes and allow our professional, experienced designer and crews do ALL the work for you. Here are three more of our suggestions for adding color to your winter landscape in the Atlanta/Georgia region.

  • Sasanqua camelia

    Sasanqua camelia in full bloom

    Sasanqua Camelia (blooms Oct- Dec) or Japonica Camellia (blooms Feb-Mar) are both a staple of southern gardens. Camellias (camellias) are evergreen shrubs and are available in a variety of ‘blooming’ colors including bright pinks, white as well as bicolor. They are happy in shady or filtered sun and prefer a well draining and rich soil.

  • Winter flowers of a Daphne odora

    Winter Daphne is also a winter blooming shrub and is available with choices of a variety of shades of pink flower that open to white. The foliage is edged with a thin strip of yellow, providing a nice contrast on the green leaf. They bloom through winter and into spring in the South – one of Unique Environmental’s favorites. Winter Daphne (Daphne odora ‘Marginata’) prefers full sun/part shade in a nutrient-rich and minimally acidic to alkaline soil.

  • Glacier Blue Euphorbia

    Close up of Glacier Blue Euphorbia

    An excellent evergreen perennial choice is Euphorbia. The ‘Glacier Blue’ variety blooms cream flowers Feb – May and the evergreen leaves of blue-grey with creamy white edges make it a garden standout. One of Unique’s favorite characteristics of Glacier Blue is that it’s deer & rabbit resistant, a feature many gardeners will appreciate. Careful though, it is toxic if eaten!! It’s also drought tolerant. Euphorbia x martini ‘Ascot Rainbow’ is another variety with similar characteristics except these differences including foliage and blooms. The stems are reddish in color and the leaves are variegated colors of dusky sage and gold with cream and green flowers (tipped with deep red in fall.) The Ascot Rainbow prefers full to part shade.

Fall Landscape Ideas from Unique

Fall is the perfect time to add plant material to your existing landscape or to plan a compete landscape makeover in your yard. Whichever the case may be, Unique Environmental Landscapes has a few plant suggestions for the Atlanta and Northern Georgia region. It just so happens that three of the plants Unique will be using this fall are also University of Georgia (UGA) Gold Medal Plant winners for 2012.

The first, and one of Unique’s favorite, is the Red Bark Coral Maple. One of it’s most outstanding characteristics is the vivid red-coral color the branches turn during the winter. Because it is a deciduous tree, the branches become a focal point in the winter garden, shine a little light on this beauty after dark and add drama to your nighttime landscape (see photo below.) In the spring, the new leaves don red edges adding another cool characteristic to the Coral Bark Maple. Then there is the fall splendor with yellow-gold and red colors.

Another one of Unique’s favorite is the Rabbiteye Blueberry (or Southern Highbush Blueberry.) You will notice this plant at this time of year for it’s beautiful fall foliage color, a deep red. Of course, the blueberries we harvested over the summer are a tasty reason to love this deciduous shrub, too. Next spring, this native blueberry bush won’t disappoint either with it’s incredible cream colored blooms almost like that of Lily of the Valley. Even though plant selection might be limited in the fall, it is the very best time of year to plant a blueberry shrub, it will love a rainy winter. Be sure to purchase at least three plants including two or more varieties for cross-pollination purposes.  If Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate, be sure to keep the soil moist. A good layer of mulch at the base always helps retain moisture…a must for best blooming and berry harvesting!

If your landscape project includes adding to your perennial garden, try Coral Bells (Heuchera) in a part-to full-shade garden. It looks best when planted next to the fine textures of plants such as bleeding hearts and ferns. It also looks great around smooth creek rock or garden statues. This perennial adds year round color, though older and tired leaves should be trimmed off before the new spring growth.

All three of the plants listed here tolerate drought conditions fairly well. Though it’s always important to remember, newly planted material requires sufficient watering for the first year especially. And of course, there aren’t really any plants in the south that don’t need a good drink of water occasionally!!

Drama in the landscape

Coral Bark Maple is a night time show piece!