Planting new lawn area - grass or thyme?

I'm currently cutting sod off some of the front yard and putting the sod in the back yard under the magnolia tree. I figure if it (some grass, some dandelions, whatever) takes root there, it'll cover the dirt left after the chickens scratched out the very sparse grass and moss that was there before. If it doesn't grow there, it'll be good compost for seed later. Either way, the front area will be level and will be real lawn (or whatever I plant), not just native whatever that has blown in over the last 20-30 years.
I'm considering planting shade-tolerant grass and cutting it out in the fall to put under the apricot tree which also was "de-grassed" by the chickens with it being sparse grass and moss also. After moving that new sod/turf/grass/whatever to the back yard, I'm thinking of wooly or creeping thyme there. Irish moss might be good there also. The idea is to have it as low maintenance as possible since I prefer to spend my time in the garden in the back yard. It's on the east side of the house so gets the morning sun and is fully shaded late in the day from the house. Because it's the front of the property, though two rows of Roma tomatoes would be perfect, veggies are not practical there and I really do want to basically ignore it as much as possible and still have it look good. It's an area 30 feet long and 9 feet wide. What would you do with it?
Is the growing of new turf for under the apricot tree really "out there" or is it a reasonable thing to do? What would be good for a permanent planting in the stripped area? We are in the Portland, Oregon, area so weather is mild compared to many parts of the U.S.A.
Glenna
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I'm a big fan of rye grass now. My entire back yard is in the shade almost 100% of the time, and rye grew in just beautifully. I simply threw some down last fall. If you can prepare the dirt a little with a tiller, that will help, but I didn't. I just waited for a rainy week and threw a bunch of seed down. And I had a very recent turf only two weeks later. It stayed green all winter (my grass only in the whole neighborhood) and it's still growing great, although rye is supposed to be annual. Even if I need to plant it every year, that will be fine by me. It's only about $10 for a 25-lb bag. Two bags ($20) covered the whole back yard (maybe 20yds x 30yds.) I got some from WalMart and some from Lowes. The price was the same, but the grass from Lowes grew much, much better. All plants and seeds I get from WalMart crap out very quickly, so stay away from that. Get rye seed from someone else and you'll be happy. I'm mixing in fescue with this rye right now, mostly just for the hell of it. BTW, I live in North Texas. Rye grass should grow even better for you up there in Oregon.
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