After the harvest and after the leaves fall from the trees, many of us scramble to “clean” them up. Most often just moving them aside as though they are trash or some kind of waste material to be disposed of. These leaves are far from trash to toss aside and in nature serve a protective function in the north where our people thrive!
The leaves naturally serve as an insulating layer to ground vegetation such as delicate plants against the oncoming cold. They shield delicate plants and wildlife from such things as freezing rain, providing a “roof” of sorts against the crushing weight of the coming snow even during the harshest of winters.
To take advantage of such a natural function when able allow the leaves to remain where they fall or collect them and place them over garden beds etc. to insulate them as well as provide extra nutrition to the soil they are over as they begin breaking down during the many melts of the beautiful winter snow. Once the melt is complete you may turn the leaves into the soil or remove them often revealing new life or revived life hidden below their surface.
Should you choose removal of the leaves from the plant space save the leaves incorporating them into an existing mulch pile to speed the process up as leaves decompose rather quickly under such conditions or you might choose to burn them and sprinkle the ashes over your lawn in your garden or around the base of the neighboring trees to return to them their lost nutrients.