What is lawn replacement meets our impossible demands?
We moved into a house that has about 1000 sqft of dirt in the back yard. It's perfectly flat, with a few big trees. Some of it gets direct sun, some is partial shade. We really want to avoid grass since we hate mowing and don't want to waste water on irrigating it every summer, but I'm starting to think it's the only plant that can stand the abuse of two kids and a dog.
Is there some groundcover that survives in Sunnyvale, CA (temps between 25 degrees and 100 degrees and absolutely no rain for 6 months), takes minimal water, and can stand the abuse of elementary-school aged children playing in it?
If the answer is "no", then is there anything that requires low-to-moderate watering but can take the abuse and won't require mowing? I'd sooner water than mow.
I really don't want to do gravel, mulch, or rubber for aesthetic reasons - it needs to be a plant, preferably green or close to green.