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.

New Pins on the Unique Environmental Landscape Pinterest Account

With the warmer weather, we’ve been busy! Have you? Now is the perfect time to work with Unique Environmental Landscapes to create the outdoor living area of your dreams. Your friends and family can enjoy the bountiful Atlanta-area outdoor living in a safe and beautiful environment. Consider our design, installation and maintenance processes and you’ll see the difference. Our gifted designers will work with you to marry functionality, plant and hardscape materials to create the perfect retreat!

In the meantime, we are sharing fresh inspiration over on the Pinterest account. Check us out, follow-us and repin to keep the inspiration closeby:

Visit Unique Environmental Landscapes’s profile on Pinterest.

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

Unique Environmental Landscapes Atlanta to Attend Home Show 2014

Atlanta and Kennesaw Landscaping Company at Home Show

Unique Environmental Landscapes is ready to wow attendees to the 36th Annual Atlanta Home Show, March 21-23, 2014 at the Cobb Galleria Centre.

The homeshow, which is the largest in Georgia, offers a one-stop-shop for all your home improvement needs! For 36 years the Spring Atlanta Home Show has been improving home lifestyles and adding value to your largest single investment, your home. Unique Environmental will be sharing a wonderful water feature and providing tips and education on design, installation and maintenance in booth 106. You may purchase your tickets here and mark your calendar!

The Unique Environmental Landscape team will be live Tweeting and live Facebooking from the event, so be sure to stop by our booth, visit with Todd and say you read about it on the website. We’d love to answer your biggest landscape challenge questions! Stay tuned for more.


AUDIO: New Edition of the Landscaping Show

The Landscape Show with Todd Guilmette of Unique Environmental Landscapes – Serving Kennesaw, GA and all of Metro Atlanta

In this edition of the Landscape Show, Kennesaw, GA, resident and metro Atlanta landscape guru Todd Guilmette talks about the upcoming Atlanta Home Showwhere Unique Environmental Landscapes will be exhibiting, how you can improve your winter landscape, all of the tasks that should be going on during this time of year in your landscape, and what it means to “rehab” or “renovate” your landscape. Sound interesting? Well, it is! This podcast is full of educational information for metro Atlanta homeowners, business owners, property managers, HOAs and POAs.

Take a listen, share it and then follow us so you can listen live on the next show.

New Gardening Internet Radio with The Atlanta Landscape Show on BlogTalkRadio

Goshiki Osmanthus Plant is a Year Round Pleaser

Winter is a good time to assess just how colorful your landscape is! It’s very easy when planning a landscape to create a great spring and summer display, but the trick to creating year around color in your landscape is selecting from plants that bloom each season. I will try to lay out over the next couple weeks and months plants that you can add into your landscape that will bring it year-round interest and create focal changes as the seasons progress. A lot of these plants I’ve used for years in my landscape designs as well as my home landscape. Just walking around yesterday I realized how Yellow Twig Dogwood, Edgeworthia and other winter plants create an interest even on the dreariest of days.

Osmanthus heterophyllus 'Goshiki' is a tough, strikingly variegated evergreen shrub with five colors on each leaf which create an eye-catching display in the landscape.

Osmanthus heterophyllus ‘Goshiki’ is a tough, strikingly variegated evergreen shrub with five colors on each leaf which create an eye-catching display in the landscape.

For starters, let’s look at Goshiki Osmanthus. This great mounding evergreen shrub has variegated foliage throughout the year with interesting color changes as the new foliage comes out and the later summer foliage matures. It is a slow growing shrub that loves to be pruned hard so it’s adaptable in small spaces and, if left untreated, can grow 4 to 5 feet tall, which makes it very adaptable for many areas in your landscape. For those of you who get creative around the holidays, its foliage works very well in Christmas wreaths and holiday greenery. Goshiki means ‘five colored’ in Japanese and refers to the various colors found on each leaf. The leaves will show off all five colors: cream, pink, orange, yellow, and white. Those colors will appear in attractive spots or swirls that combine together to create an eye-catching display!

Other notes:  Thrives in dry, hot climates, good container plants, drought tolerant, fragrant, low maintenance

Learn more about Unique Environmental.


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

Fertilize those Fall Flowers

Like the landscape installation department at Unique Environmental, your fall seasonal color has probably been in the ground for about a month now. You’re thinking the recent rainfall was good and now the sunshine and average fall temperatures should make your cabbage, pansies, and violas happy right? Wrong! It’s time for a feeding. Take advantage of one of the warmer days when it comes along over the next week and fertilize with Peter’s liquid fertilizer. I recommend liquid over granulated now because it will work faster.