Home & Garden

Free-flowing Cayucos garden works on every level, from art shows to fundraisers

Kathy and Jim Pashone’s multi-level backyard in Cayucos is often the site of lunches, parties and art shows.
Kathy and Jim Pashone’s multi-level backyard in Cayucos is often the site of lunches, parties and art shows. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Cayucos has its share of quaint beach houses — and Jim and his wife, artist Kathy Pashone, own one of the nicest.

The home’s soft grey-and-white color scheme, horizontal wood siding and colorful flower beds evoke a traditional East Coast vibe. Passersby occasionally stop to admire the home and snap pictures.

Unbeknownst to them, the real treat lies in the backyard. That is where the owners’ dual talents shine.

“I draw the pictures, and Jim makes it happen,” Kathy said. “That’s how we do it.”

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With its grey-and-white color scheme, horizontal wood siding and colorful flower beds, Kathy and Jim Pashone’s Cayucos home has an traditional East Coast vibe. David Middlecamp dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

What they did was create a free-flowing, multi-functional backyard that works well on many levels. Stair-stepped patios tame a gently sloping landscape that accommodates entertaining options ranging from intimate dinners to large parties, fundraisers and Kathy’s annual art show in September.

This idyllic retreat was years in the making.

First, the Pashones — both retired Southern California high school teachers — demolished the existing termite- and dry rot-infested bungalow they bought in 2001. Five years later, they built their current home, and gradually developed a beautiful backyard.

The problem, the couple said, was it took two days just to mow the lawn.

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Kathy and Jim Pashone’s Cayucos garden features several comfortable seating areas. David Middlecamp dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

So they tore out all the grass and replaced it with several concrete patios, walkways and small areas of artificial turf. The Pashones say the greatest thing about the redo, completed three years ago, is they now spend more time enjoying their yard than maintaining it.

“We learned so much by doing the house first,” Kathy said, “especially how to plan ahead.” Also determining how they were going to use the space proved critical to the project’s success, the Pashones said.

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Kathy and Jim Pashone share a shed in their Cayucos garden. David Middlecamp dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

A key element of the garden makeover is the bright blue, L-shaped shed anchoring one corner of the backyard.

Jim and a cat lay claim to the garden side of the divided structure, while Kathy displays her finished art on her side.

For Kathy, the shed was more than a cute design feature.

Previously, clients and visitors had to climb upstairs to her painting studio in the house to view her finished work. Now, she said, they can see her art pieces in a relaxing environment without having to navigate stairs.

Outside, the backyard subtly lures visitors to linger. There are several comfortable seating areas, including an awning-covered table and chairs, benches and an antique redwood table.

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A decorative glass block in a concrete retaining wall gives Kathy and Jim Pashone’s Cayucos garden a beachy vibe. David Middlecamp dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Artistic touches brighten the outdoor space with painted birdhouses, fountains and a tabletop fire pit filled with sparkling bronze glass. Metal fish, wooden crabs, jars of sea glass and a basket full of sun hats promote a beachy theme.

Pulling all these diverse elements together is an assortment of blooming plants and greenery that provide a calming backdrop for the entertainment-centered space.

When asked if there was anything about their remake they would do differently, the Pashones instantly agreed there was nothing they would change.

“I’m just amazed it’s ours,” Jim said.


Think ahead. Plan your landscape design based on what you want to do in your outdoor space. To accommodate their frequent outdoor parties, the Pashones included several comfortable seating areas surrounded by colorful plants, fountains and art pieces.

Minimize maintenance. Use plants that come back each year and don’t require replanting.

Shake it up. Poppies are one of Kathy’s favorite flowers to start from seed. Once the flowers start to dry up, she shakes the seed heads onto the ground and waits for new plants to pop up the following year.

Level out. Manage a sloping landscape by creating different levels.

Leslie Stevens lives in San Luis Obispo and has been gardening and writing about the area for nearly 20 years. If you know of a special autumn garden or gardening event worth sharing, please contact her at lesloscrib50@gmail.com. Please allow a minimum of six weeks from the event.

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