I ran across a notion today that I've met many times before, in gardening books, magazines, and web sites:
"Get rid of the lawn—No time to mow? Rip the lawn out and add an herb garden, a few vegetables, and some specimen plants. If you put in regional natives, you can cut down on watering too. Save your compost and put that on your plants instead of chemical fertilizers. Cottage gardens are much more interesting and useful than lawns, and they're easier to maintain."
I lived on and maintained an acre of yard for 5 years, divided about evenly between lawn, garden, and woods. The woods were the easiest part to maintain -- clean out the fallen branches occasionally and walk through with a machete twice a year to keep paths clear -- the lawn the second easiest -- and I mowed twice a week and spot weeded! -- and the garden far and away the most difficult. Gardens require pruning, watering, fertilizing, staking, and deadheading, but by far the biggest job is weeding. The idea that mulch eliminates the need for weeding is nonsense -- it helps, but sooner or later weeds pop right up through it.