I've spent the last year trying to figure out how to have a grass-free yard. It's harder than I thought it would be. I covered most of the backyard in a layer of old cardboard and covered that in mulch from the city landfill and in pine needles from Lowe's. Bermuda grass laughed at my efforts. My layer of hard-won mulch was covered in verdure within six weeks. That's fine, as long as the greenery is low-growing and attractive. The previous owner of this house warned us we'd have to put out herbicide for the weed pictured here. In the absence of a thick layer of grass, it went truly apeshit. I like it -it hugs the ground and has pretty flowers, but now that it's getting cooler it's starting to die back.
I tried killing off grass by cooking it under black plastic in the hot sun. Not as effective as what I'd hoped. Mulch is expensive and doesn't go very far. Pine straw feels squishy under your feet and while it's a better alternative to mulch because of the price and portability, it's still expensive. Still working on this one. The mulched/pine straw option also makes it hard to rake leaves. It's fine with me if the yard's covered in leaves, hey it's free mulch, but I don't want leaves blowing into my neighbors' yards over the course of the fall and winter.