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Leaves are a valuable resource.
Organic matter is how soil is created.
Removing leaves off site is strip mining and depletes the soil.
When shredded finely by a lawn mower they make a
neat mulch in beds. The resulting dust is beneficial to the grass and
roots in a lawn area.
What appears to be a giant quantity when shredded
becomes a small fraction in bulk.
A covering of leaves in the beds delays freezing of the ground so
extends the root
growing season. (Roots grow in the fall till the ground freezes)
The time/labor involved in shredding the leaves is a fraction compared
removal (either stuffing into paper bags or loading into a truck).
My lawn tractor (antique Gravely) does this quite well - the leaves
must by dry and several passes are needed - not a big deal as it's a
rider. A push mower is a bit more involved, mine doesn't chop as well
as the tractor but does work. Adding a "mulching" blade (not a big
deal) to the push mower helps. And don't wait till the leaves
a discription of
discusion on the process from gardenweb.com