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Bringing Your Vision to Life

Master Plans ~ Challenging Sites ~ Unique Outcomes

Golden Gate Park
Waterwall, Walkway, Lighting, Landscaping
Concrete Porch
Green Balconies
Shade Structure, Patio, Boulder Wall, Landscaping
Designed Backyard
Grass grid
Botanical Garden
Designed Grass Field
Landscape Architecture
About Us.jpg

What Sets Us Apart

Jim Heller, RLA, president/owner of Exterior Design Services, has been creating outdoor lifestyles for the greater Philadelphia area and the Main Line since 1992. His focus is on custom residential landscape architecture, project management, and personal on-site supervision, helping homeowners across the region realize their visions for outdoor living.



​Jim’s personal approach and avid listening style allow him to develop a genuinely unique design solution, together with the homeowners, to fit both their lifestyle and budget.

Value engineering has become his specialty. Even when a dream pool, patio, and landscaping project first appear outside the budget, Jim offers design and material options to achieve both function and budget.

When the project is under construction, Jim will be on site for oversight to ensure the job is done right.

During the whole process, Jim stays in communication with clients and contractors. He can also supervise bidding through a network of recommended, experienced contractors. His attention to detail keeps the project running smoothly from concept to completion.

The Process

What We Offer

Site Investigation

The first step of any project is to investigate the local municipality's Zoning and Stormwater Management Ordinances to determine the parameters by which the project will be governed, as well as to accurately measure and plot all existing hardscape, landscape, and topographic conditions. The site investigation phase of the project will determine whether the client's desired improvements are feasible within the restrictions of the local Ordinances.

Design Development

Once the site investigation process has been completed, and it has been determined that the project is feasible within the guidelines of the local Ordinances, the design development phase begins. This portion of the project is the time to explore multiple design layouts, incorporating all desired elements (whether a high priority or on a more distant "wish list"). Depending on the project scope, design options may include suggested plant materials for removal or transplanting, hardscape layouts in plan view, shade structure elevations as necessary to sufficiently convey the design concepts to the client, grading and drainage improvements, fencing style options, proposed plant material pallets and suggested exterior lighting fixtures. The landscape architect meets with the client throughout the Design Development phase and refines the Plan(s) as needed to achieve the most appropriate solution.

Construction Documentation

Once the design concept is finalized, construction documentation begins. This phase is twofold. First, all work requiring Zoning, Grading, or Building Permits is documented, and applications are completed for submittal to the local municipality for review. Secondly, construction layout documents are prepared for use in bidding on the project, as well as for use in the field during layout. The documents include dimensioned layout information, vertical data required for proper grading and drainage, construction details, finish specifications, quantification of materials, plant material lists, and light fixture specifications.

Signing a Contract
Permitting Coordination

Once the project is under review, regular communication with the local municipality is maintained to ensure that all questions are accurately addressed in a timely fashion.  If the Zoning and/or Building official has any comments that require Plan changes, the modifications are made quickly and certified for resubmittal.

Bidding Supervision

During the bidding process, all construction documents are submitted to multiple contractors for competitive bidding.  During the bidding process, we ensure that all contractors' questions are sufficiently and consistently answered to achieve the most accurate and all-inclusive set of bids.  Exterior Design Services can assist the client with bid review and selection of contractors.  

Construction Oversight

Once the project breaks ground, Exterior Design Services offers professional field layout, oversight of contractors' work, and regular communication with the contractors and client, to ensure that the design is implemented to perfection and the client's vision is achieved.

Dennis R.

I found Jim's work to be excellent, on time and on budget. Not only that but Jim is a trustworthy person who you can count on to get the job done. He goes over and above to make the client happy.

Gary V.

Jim was a true pleasure to work with. He was creative and thorough. I highly recommend him.

Michael P.

Jim did an excellent job in my backyard, transforming it into a sanctuary for our family. He is a true professional and I endorse him wholeheartedly.


Exterior Design Services

482 Hallman Ct, Downingtown, PA 19335, USA

Initial Consultation is Complimentary

Call or Email for more information

Jim Heller.jpg

40 years in the field
President/Owner, Exterior Design Services

Founded 1992
BS, Landscape Architecture
The Pennsylvania State University
Registered Landscape Architect, PA (LA001039E)

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