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.