I did a search on this subject, but didn't find much. We're first-time homeowners, so forgive my ignorance in advance. As winter ticks away, we're really thinking about our back yard, which right now looks like it survived a war. We're talking tree stumps, craters, etc. The previous owner was an 86-year-old woman who didn't do a thing to the yard for 30 nearly 30 years.
The yard is only about 20' by 35', some of which is taken up by Bilco doors and a back stoop. Our plan is to level out the yard, employ Uncle Contractor to bring his mini backhoe over to help get the stumps out, and then level out the yard a bit while removing what's left of the old English ivy. The problem is that we have two large silver maples with considerable canopies. From the looks of it (and we haven't seen them with leaves yet), we'll be really hard pressed to grow any grass back there. The areas that do get sun are going to be saved for vegetable/herb/flower beds.
That said, in an attempt to get the yard up and running quickly, would something like wood chips be a good alternative to grass for pretty much the whole yard? Any advice on the best way to go about making that happen? Are there any problems with wood chips we should watch out for?