Should you shread the pine needles before adding them to the compost pile to speed up the process, or does it make a difference?
As long as you truly "compost" the needles (that is, that you put them into a mix with several other compostable materials and let them break down into compost or dirt) the acidic ph of the pine needles will be neutralized.
You can use pine needles as mulch (that is, not composted) around acid loving plants: rhododendreons, evergreens, azealas, etc....
Pine needles can acidify the soil so are best around acid loving plants - or presumably on alkaline soils!
Just mix with other compostable materials in layers and you're good to go. Compost does best when there is an equal mix of greens (fresh plant trimmings, kitchen veggie trimmings and grass clippings) and browns (shredded newspaper, brown pine needles, fallen leaves, etc.). Take a look here.
Oh, the pine needles would be a brown.
You are very fortunate to have 'troops'! :-)
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