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KUSA - In mid-August when many plants are mature and looking their best, it's a great time to explore nearby gardens and take stock of plants you would still like to plant this year.

Once the hottest days of summer have passed, we still have several weeks ahead of us to plant and get perennials and shrubs established for a great start next spring. End-of-season bargains at garden centers and nurseries are just ahead, too, and can add more value to late-season planting.

Your inspiration for new plants may come as close as your neighbor's yard or other communities. The Stapleton area, for example, is full of showy perennials. On the west side of the metro area, the medians in Lakewood and the gardens at Kendrick Lakes also have a wide assortment of perennials. Wherever you walk or drive, you can spot plants that get your attention. Take pictures with your phone so you have them for reference.

When you're out exploring, keep these garden design basics in mind:

• Color: Where does your eye land first? Is this a color you love and would like in your yard? There are bright standouts like the Denver Daisy and demure pinks such as penstemon.

• Texture: Soft grasses, for example, will sway in the breeze. Less colorful plants full of texture add another dimension to the garden besides just color.

• Size: Notice how big mature plants are. When you buy a one-gallon Russian sage, for example, it seems small. But the mature plant like the ones in the 9NEWS Garden will take up several feet of space. Select plants you have room to grow.

• Height: Great gardens have plants at varied heights. The flowering ice plant hugs the ground while shrubs stand several feet tall. It takes several different heights to create a good mix.

Be inspired by the many perennials that you find. Perennials are a great garden value because they return year after year. And as they mature, they can be divided so you have more plants to re-locate to other areas of the yard.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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