I have been experimenting using my favourite groundcover as a lawn. Cotula squalida, a creeping evergreen from New Zealand is one of the best performers I have come across. It makes a great alternative lawn because it reaches only 2.5cm high and is happy in a semi-shady spot.
Ajuga reptans, Vinca minor, Pachysandra terminalis or Hedera helix are other good choices to carpet a shady area but I would avoid the larger leaved Ajuga 'Caitlins Giant' in this situation
There is no need to avoid some of the classic alternative lawns - camomile 'Trenague' is wonderful on the right soil, and interweaving thymes is a design classic for a reason.
In the sunnier parts of my garden the fast-spreading Acaena microphylla is romping away. Acaena 'Copper Carpet' is a great choice and has made a lovely evergreen carpet in my mothers front garden (very clay soil, which only gets sun for half the day) Despite the lovely ornamental burrs which give this plant its charm, it is soft underfoot, and slightly springy. The slightly glaucus colouring of the finely cut leaves, makes this an elegant choice that tones in well with red brick, slate and grey stone.
But you don't have to take such a radical step. This weekend's Times discusses a number of simple, significant changes that you can make to the way you manage your lawn to will make it easier and cheaper to look after
If you are growing an usual lawn in your garden, I would love to hear about it and see some piccies!