Turn an old gravel parking lot into a landscaped area
OK - here's my story. I've been looking to build a new home for a while and have looked at acreage to build on, within an hour of my job in Newark, OH, as my commute has been too much on me (we live in Delaware County near Powell at the moment).
We've possibly located a property in that is just over 12 acres. It has potential, but here's the story:
The property was originally an apple orchard and farmer's market. It was abandoned about a decade ago and split into a few parcels. About half the land sits pretty high up on a little "plateau", the soil here is a decent loamy soil that drains pretty well, but then it slopes way down to a low lying area that is rather poorly drained (most of that part is actually a flood zone). The hillside and higher part of the lot still has the old apple stumps (many that resprouted) and overgrown grass. The lowest lying area (about 2 acs total) is where the little farmer's market, administrative offices (originally the old farmhouse) and parking area was - probably since the fruit trees would have done poorly there. The buildings have been razed, but the gravel parking lot remains.
I can handle most of the property - dig out the stumps, kill off the weeds and grass, and replant. I even have my ideas for plenty of things that can tolerate the wetness of the swampy areas, but here are my concerns about the area where the farmer's market was located in particular:
1. The gravel almost certainly means the pH of the underlying soil is extremely high. I'm not sure I CAN remove it, or if I should (it's probably half an acre+ actually covered with the gravel) but also, the soil is likely to be very compacted. There are also a few gravel paths throughout the property, I assume where tractors and other equipment traveled to harvest and care for the trees.
2. Should I try to have a cultivator in here to loosen up the years of compaction here and along the other gravel roads? It does dry out in summer most of the time, so that would be a good time to work the soil and try to "repair" it before planting water-loving plants there.
Any other ideas?