I like the way you and your wife think re: lawn treatments. I live in a pine forest. Nothing grows in pine needles except for weeds and mushrooms. My lawn looks worse than hell, but when all the weeds are mowed to an even height, I still have green ground cover so I'm good.
The amount of chemicals some people use to grow lush green lawns in the woods is staggering. I am gradually working towards only keeping my sand mound grass covered. Everything else will be native woodland ground cover or native perennial flowers. The problem is that I have so many invasive ornamental plants and shrubs growing in my yard that it's going to take a while to dig them all out or kill them off without the use of chemicals.
It's something to shoot for so I'm doing it.
P.S. 21 years in this house and I've never raked even one leaf. They lay where they fell until the weeds start poking through them and they get mowed. Lawns are far worse for the environment than the dreaded golf courses. Lawns occupy 1000's of times more acreage, and most of them in suburbia are maintained with chemicals.