We want to purchase several trees, 10-15, and shrub/bushes at the same time and get them planted before winter. We plan to dig the holes ahead of the trees to have them ready to plant. If the holes are dug and just sitting for a couple weeks before the trees arrive, all that soil in the holes will be exposed. Will this cause problems when the trees are planted? Should we cover the holes with a tarp? Water them? We're in high desert, arid, clayish soil, but our property was organically farmed (albeit conventional monocrop tilling). I'm finding lots of worms only a couple inches down.
I'm also looking for suggestions on where to order trees. Most of the places I've found online have only fruit/nut trees. We need some wind break large trees, cypress maybe. Open to suggestions.
There are no issues I know of with digging holes ahead of time apart from the potential stumbling hazard. Also, there's no rush to get trees in the ground before winter. Typically, it's better to plant trees mid winter to early spring when they're dormant. I've had good luck ordering trees and shrubs from Bob Wells Nursery http://bobwellsnursery.com/.
Temps are already dipping here. Not quite ready to order or plant, but I'm trying to gather all the information now. Thanks for the info and the link. I'll check out Bob Wells. I'm also looking at https://www.groworganic.com.
Like Arron said, no worries about digging the holes ahead.
Do expect to make adjustments to those holes once you get the trees on site to plant, holes should be twice as large in diameter as the root ball but don't dig deeper than the depth of the root ball or fill in and tamp gently, the trunk needs to be at ground level when planted, not deeper and not higher.
You can use amended soil to do the filling and water in as you fill to help the soil settle in around the roots faster.
For evergreens (conifers) you can plant them at the same time you plant deciduous trees (dormant stage), this allows the trees to wake up in their new home soil.
Once you have them planted and watered in, just watch that soil and don't let it dry out to bone dry.
In the spring as the buds start to open and the new growth begins on the conifers, water them all with a diluted vitamin B-12 solution to get the roots growing faster.
(I always like to plant trees at any time between December and February since we now start to see no frost around mid March).
In reading some books on planting hedges, the author would dig a trench in the fall and pile the soil next to it, and let it sit all winter. Then in the spring, manure was added and the dug out soil was put back on top, and the trees planted from seed in that. When the trench was dug (18" wide and 12" deep for their needs) they would also use a fork to break up the bottom of the trench to improve drainage.
So maybe you could do something similar- dig the holes, fork the bottom of the hole to improve drainage, and let it sit a bit until the trees arrive. I don't think it's recommended that you fertilize into the hole, but instead put back the original soil and then mulch, adding any amendments on to the soil like it would occur naturally.
I'm not quite a lumberjack, but that's OK, I sleep all night and I dream all day; I'll coppice trees, I'll grow my food, and compost poo and pee! With a well and off-grid solar, it's a permies life for me! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FshU58nI0Ts
Bryant, and Mark, I really appreciate all you advice. I do plan to mulch heavily once the trees are planted, and I like the idea of watering in as they are planted. I was going to water the holes to saturate the ground before planting.
Bryant, I never heard of adding B12. I'll try that.
You may want to consider Williow trees (Salix). I just purchased cuttings on Etsy, put them in home depot buckets to sprout roots and planted them. I planted the first batch about three weeks ago and most of them are sprouting leaves already. uses, Nitrogen fixer, biomass, plant starter, and craft wood. The trees I purchased are hybrid and grow 10 to 14 ft the first full year. You can find some videos on Youtube.
Another option I like is honey or black locust...these are a little pricier, I purchased 12 on Etsy, couldn't find them anywhere else. The black locust has spines but the wood is bulletproof, they are a nitrogen fixer, craft wood and pollinators love them. I don't think the locusts would make as good a hedge as the willow as they have a dappled shade.
A weed is but an unloved flower. Ella Wheeler Wilcox
I have plenty of fruit trees and didn't pay a cent. Through local internet forums I asked people for cuttings from their trees and a few responded. I now have grapes, peaches of different kinds, plums of different kinds, apple, walnut and more.