So, I hate grass lawns. Grass and I are on the level, but the trimmed grass lawn is an abomination of gardening as far as I'm concerned and I want nothing to do with it. (Depending on your palate for social injustice, you may or may not be interested in researching the origin of the American grass lawn.) Besides, I'm allergic to grass, it doesn't grow right here because a lot of my property is partial shade, and because it doesn't grow vigorously it invites weeds, to which I'm also allergic.
What kinds of ground covers can I plant that will beat out grass? I would prefer something short and dense, as I'll be walking around on it while tending the rest of the garden (sparingly, but regularly.) Most of my lawn gets at least three hours of direct sun in the early half of the day, but there are really tall trees on the western edge that limit all-day exposure. I'm in the Pacific Northwest and live in an odd spot that usually acts like a coastal zone 9/10 type of environment but with hard freezes that roll in from the zone 7/8 brush prairies to the east in the cold season.
I'm in the process of ripping up the grass wherever I feel I could get some vegetables or useful flowers (wildflowers, sunflowers, marigolds, etc.) going. But, I'll need to fill in spaces between my larger, taller plants (tomatoes, sunflowers, peppers) with something to help keep the weeds and critters out. Pest-repellent plants (such as marigolds) would be especially preferred, as would natives to this region. Tips? I've done a lot of flower gardening and landscape gardening before, and have grown some decent tomatoes in my day, but I've never had a real yard with full sun spots to work for myself before - just containers on patios, etc. I know the basics - north/south rows, mulching, etc. - but don't have much experience choosing plants.
PS - OMG that similar threads feature is the coolest thing we've added EVER! Nice choice, Andrew.