Today we harvested our Christmas tree from the small group of spruce planted, I think, for that purpose. Most are a bit overgrown so work better as an animal refuge rather than as a holiday decoration. My girls told me we'll have to plant some more. Great idea!
Youngest is holding the top of this young spruce affected by spruce bud worm.
Other things you can do with woody debris (that is not part of the Walnut family unless you plan on using it around a planting that is jugalone tolerant) from your yard:
1. Use it to start a compost pile. Criss cross the branches for the base to improve drainage.
2. Build a brush pile, in a damp spot if you are concerned about fire, as an animal shelter. Note that you will probably shelter things that eat your plants too but the diversity is good right! Besides, in the city, rabbits mostly ate my weeds. I think they were on to something. EcosystemGardening.com uses this system to recycle invasive Norway Maple.
3. Dig a trench and pile them in, covering them with soil. They will rot down creating an organic rich bed. Especially useful in areas with thin, poor soil. See hugelkultur in all its variations. Here's a nice one where they show a lasagna style bed built with sticks.
4. Bushy branches are great as pea sticks and the thicker ones make a nice trellis. Some lovely examples at Allotment Forestry.
5. Large branches can be used to edge a path and small ones can be laid down like wood mulch to be crunched underfoot.
6. Bundle them up and innoculate with mushroom spores, place in a damp spot. Let me know how well this works!
7. Use as kindling than use the ashes as ammendments for soil. Safety concerns include: wood that has been contaminated with chemicals, heavy metal uptake of trees, making the soil too alkaline. I'll have to let you do your own research on this one.
8. Use feathery pine branches as protection for plants less tolerant to hard freezes and oscillating temperatures. They will help hold on to the insulating snow.
P.S. Yes, we're still harvesting vegetables:
My littlest making her happy, funny face while eating Purple Peacock Brocokale intended for dinner.