This is a process for converting your front yard to good soil with no grass, without ripping up every blade of grass or taking the top layer off your soil. It actually builds up the soil while killing the grass. It is also extremely inexpensive (water and fuel for hauling compost).
I did this because California is facing an impending drought, this may not change in the next few years, and frankly I'm tired of watering my front yard. I want only drought-tolerant plants in my front yard, and fruiting trees and bushes on a drip system.
Also, I happen to live in a city with clay soil, and this will improve it tremendously.
Step 1: Step1: Before
Right side of front yard. I had allowed the grass to grow long. I was planning to overhaul it. Your picture, of course, may look very different on Step1.
The heir apparent helped me. He's a good waterer.
Step 2: Step2: Mow Lawn Short
Get out your lawn mower and mow your lawn on the shortest possible setting for your mower. You won't be watering this lawn any more.