Autumn leaves as mulch?

As a new gardener in soon-to-freeze Midwest, I have noticed the following irony: We as well as our neighbors are raking bags upon bags of autumn leaves from the front and back yards and discarding them. At the same time we are buying mulch to protect newly planted perennials during the winter.
An obvious question is, could we use those leaves as mulch? I get enough to make as thick a layer as needed?
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An obvious "yes." Rake the leaves evenly into garden areas where they'll break down feeding microorganisms which in turn produce additional nutrients, all the while suppressing suppress weeds. It's even an attractive mulch and the decay of leaves is a most plesant smell.
I have several trees but never enough leaves. This week I've been down the block cleaning leaves off sidewalks, putting them in big buckets, bringing them home to put on fallow areas of the gardens. Can't get enough of that wonderful stuff.
-paghat the ratgirl
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visit my temperate gardening website:
http://www.paghat.com
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paghat wrote:

Better yet, look for your neighbors who have vacuumed up their leaves with a lawn mower. You get a dual benefit here. The leaves get chopped up and mixed with some grass (green component for mulch to go with the brown leaves).
I normally do not use a grass catcher. but let the mulch blade on my mower cut it up and allow it to fall on the lawn. However, I try to time my last cut of the year using the catcher to vacuum up the leaves. It is much more efficient than raking. I take the vacummed content to my three mulch piles to add to the treasure I have gleaned from my neighbors. Several villages around me actually pay waste collectors to take away their leaves for possible reuse at a compost facility. I wonder if anyone has calculated how much energy is being removed from the lawns of households with a fair amount of leaf fall.
By the way, just piling whole leaves into a mound or into a compost bin without cutting them up really slows down the decomposition process. I used to do that and found the leaves sticking together, not allowing moisture and air ciculation to do their job. It took twice as long for those leaves to break down as compared to chopped up leaves.
Sherwin
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sherwin dubren;822692 Wrote:

I'm in the UK where most gardeners either gather up leaves and put them into black plastic bags with some holes in or into a kind of pen made with chicken wire. They are eventually put back onto the garden when they have broken down (one or two years here). I don't leave many leaves on borders, because smaller plants often rot underneath them and never any on lawns. I mulch with well-rotted compost.
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Janet Conroy

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BTW
If you are scared of a disease just let the leaves compost for one year and they will be fine.
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Sincerely,
John A. Keslick, Jr.
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