It's clear that around our part of north central Austin, others are getting the same idea this summer: get rid of the grass, and "furnish" the yard instead. I like the idea of furnishing our yard. Grass was the easy way for me of dealing with space on our property, but the water it requires is so hard to justify in a drought year, or any other year in Texas for that matter.
Without grass, you have to think about "furniture" like paths, plants, rocks, a dry creekbed, maybe? All fun things for kids. Natural playscaping. I love this idea. Of course grass is soft and easy to play on, yes. So we're keeping, for now, a patch in the back yard that will be just big enough for a slip and slide, etc.
We've asked our "old" landscaper to come back and help with the design of a dry creekbed that will wrap around the side of our house, visually beginning in the back. Another vision is rain capture - rain barrels under our gutters, the overflow of which will spill into the creek bed. For whenever rain does happen to fall here.