Ever since I can remember, I have gone through the same fall ritual: rake the leaves that fall into perennial beds and around trees, bag ’em up, and have them hauled off. And I’m probably late to this realization, but I recently read about the benefits of mulching trees because–in part–it mimicks what happens naturally in forests when leaves fall, protect the trees from possible dehydration in the winter, and then enrich the soil as the leaves break down.
Now, for years I have mowed the leaves that fall on the lawn and have never bagged grass clippings–but left them in place. Up until now, though, I had always raked up and bagged the leaves in flower beds and around trees. And those that I missed in late fall, I would rake up in the spring to make things look tidy.
But this year it just struck me as extra work and an unnecessary contribution to a landfill to be that fastidious. Besides, why buy mulch when you can use the mulch the tree itself gives you? I’m going to leave the leaves in place, let them break down where they are and let nature do her thing. It won’t look as manicured, but when the perennials underneath the rotting leaves pop up through them next spring, who’ll even notice? I doubt even Mother Nature will.