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Basic Landscape Design Software

May 10, 2019

Announcer: Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension service.

Amy Myers: Today we're talking about basic landscape design software. Hello, I'm Amy Myers and welcome to Farm and Family. Today we're speaking with Dr. Jason Gordon, Mississippi State University Extension Forestry Specialist. So, Jason today we're talking about photo realistic visualization. This is for landscaping. Can you tell me what this is?

Jason Gordon: Photo realistic visualization is a way of essentially designing your landscape, getting an idea of what your landscape could look like using photos and a free software called Canvis. So, you would take photos and you would manipulate the trees and vegetation and buildings in those photos to create a landscape. So, you have an idea of what that landscape might look like before you start planting, before you start picking up a shovel. So, it saves a lot of time and it can save a lot of money. The reason we do this is because we can understand things better through seeing things. We learn by hearing. We learn by hands on learning.

So, this idea of photo realistic visualization allows us to visualize what that landscape might be and better understand do we like that or not?

Amy Myers: So, the software to help folks do this is called Canvis. Can you explain more about what it does?

Jason Gordon: Canvis is a very basic software program. It's been out for years now at least maybe about 10 years. It was produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency and the National Agroforestry Center to look at sea level change. Particularly in Maryland and the coastal cities. Florida and so forth. Canvis is similar to Photoshop, but it's much easier to pick up. It's much more basic. It's not as powerful, but it's that same idea where you manipulate different kinds of photos.

Amy Myers: So, you could pretty much take a photo of your own home or your own landscape and actually do a rendering to see what certain trees and vegetation would look like on your own piece of property or someone else's piece of property.

Jason Gordon: That's exactly right, Amy. They have the software comes with downloadable libraries of trees and shrubs and all kinds of vegetation. Even benches. Even photos of people. All of this is a social network way of adding these object images to the software. People create it. Like I would create something and then add it to their libraries so that it would be available for public use. So, once you take those images, you can add that bench into your back yard to see what that bench would look like in your back yard.

Amy Myers: Right and this is great for people that want to pitch ideas for architectural landscaping or anything else like that or even for conservation plantings and such. Of course, you do need to make sure that you do your homework first and know what tree and what bush is suitable for the area that you live in.

Jason Gordon: That's right. There's various degrees. I use this all the time when I'm working with cities or I'm working with homeowners, schools and so forth and to some extent, you need it to look realistic. You need it to look truthful, but on the other hand you can have a tree that might not necessarily be exactly the type of species in that area because the scope is pulled back and what you're really looking at is how would a tree look like in a landscape that in reality does not have any trees in it. So, you have to weigh these issues but try and make it as realistic as you can.

Amy Myers: Right. For someone to use this program, it's important to have basic computer skills. What skills does that include?

Jason Gordon:  I always like to say that you need to know how to download files. You have to know how to unzip folders. You have to know how to use the internet and search and use Google maps and copy images from Google maps and then save and edit those images. You have to know how to edit photos in a basic photo editor. Basic skills. It's more than just typing. Most importantly of all, you have to be comfortable with using a desktop computer.

Amy Myers: Of course we don't want to scare anybody off because these are skills that are extremely easy to learn if you don't know them already.

Jason Gordon: It takes practice and so a lot of people might get deterred at the beginning, but it's like any new skill. You just have to keep going and learning it and practicing.

Amy Myers:  Right. Don't let it scare you because anybody can do it. To find the publication to learn more about Canvis software, folks can go to and then go in the search box and search for Canvis and that's C-A-N-V-I-S. Is that correct?

Jason Gordon: That's correct, Amy.

Amy Myers: Thank you so much. Today we've been speaking with Dr. Jason Gordon, Mississippi State University Extension Forestry Specialist. I'm Amy Myers and this has been Farm and Family. Have a great day.

Announcer: Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension service.


Department: Forestry

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