The days of a big green lawn in front and back, with a few trees, bushes or flower beds scattered around, are long gone. Some people don't want to spend all that time weeding, raking, trimming and mowing, so that's why there's a trend toward things like xeriscaping. This means landscaping with an eye toward reducing water consumption (a bonus green feature) as well as less work for the homeowner. It uses drought-tolerant plants and much less traditional grass, while still looking pretty.
There are also less extreme ways of reducing your workload in the yard, such as the use of English ivy or other spreading plants that need very little maintenance. On the other hand, you may have always dreamed of a planned English garden. What about a labyrinthine hedge? If gardening is one of the great loves of your life and you have the time and space, there are plenty of resources out there to help you indulge your fantasy.
Even if you don't care much for gardening, you've probably noticed that the backyard isn't just for kids' swing sets. Lots of people consider their outdoor spaces an extension of their house, and that's manifested in the popularity of big sunrooms, screened porches, verandas, decks, and patios. Sometimes it's like a second kitchen, living and dining room out there, complete with burners, sinks and TVs. Large built-in grills, or maybe a brick pizza oven, would make your home party central.
Of course, if you have a pool or hot tub you're already there. To be on the cutting edge of cool, install an infinity pool (which have vanishing edges) or a stationary pool. The latter can be installed easily indoors and takes up very little room, but generates a current that you can swim against for exercise.