We've been thinking about moving out of the city to have more garden space and the opportunity to raise some small animals for eggs, meat, and manure for the garden. After spending a fair amount of time browsing potential properties online, it seems that many of our options involve a house surrounded by a large lawn covering 2-4 acres. It's warm and wet here so grass grows nearly year round; I have no interest in maintaining large lawns. Rather, I'm imagining converting one of these into a mix of garden beds and fruit trees with meadow under and around the trees and in any areas we'd not be using intensively.
1. How to convert lawn to meadow at this scale? Can I just stop mowing and hope for the best? I assume I'd need to take a more hands-on approach, but I'm hoping to minimize inputs of time and money. I would prefer a process that doesn't take years, but I recognize that may be incompatible with my low-input wish.
2. What kind of equipment is needed to mow a meadow annually? Would I need to mow more than annually to keep woody vegetation out?
3. There are probably some good books that cover this topic. What can you recommend?
Thanks in advance for your help!