Should I remove last years mulched leaves from my gardens?

Another question from the group newbie... :)
Last year I purchased a shredder/vac/blower and shredded up all of our leaves and put a nice thick layer on my flower beds. I've got probably 4 inches or so on top of my main garden and I'm wondering if thats too much. The garden includes mainly hosta, heuchera and a few other shade perennials. I moved some of the mulched leaves out of the way today and it seemed pretty damp underneath, we've had lots of rain lately. Will this be a problem, is it too think or should I just leave the mulch as is? I'm hoping it will be ok and it can serve as a weed barrier.
Thanks in advance for your help!
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As a general rule leaflitter is the most natural autumn & winter mulch, & encourages the microorganisms that manufacture nitrogen. A healthy garden will also love the fallen leaves that keep down winter-germinating seeds, then turns into lovely leafmold by or during spring. Woodland gardens which are permitted to recycle their leaves back into their own soil need very little fertilizing to remain happy as all get-out.
On the other hand, an unhealthy or inorganic garden will linevitably/eventually have harmful insect population explosions because harmful insects adapt & bounce back more rapidly than do beneficial insects. In such cases leaflitter can harbor an excess of harmful insects. Or even in a healthy garden, if a droughty winter means the leaves never did break down into leafmold, spring rain or artificial irrigation wetting so many whole leaves in warming weather will make it ideal slug & snail & woodlouse territory.
So there are some cases when the leaves really do have to be taken away & composted or put in black bags & stored until they break down into leafmold. In most cases though the leaves are gotten off lawns & into the gardens during autumn leaf-fall, & nature does the rest.
Four inches of mulch, however, certainly is apt to be too much, &amp it might be nice to aportion all that mulch more thinly about the gardens. As for keeping the ground moist underneath the mulch, that's generally a good thing, it won't keep it TOO moist unless the soil is badly draining clay; it just allows for water conservation. An inch or two would be a lot of mulch but not too much unless you were hoping to germinate seeds in which case soil would have to be churned to the surface mixing the mulch in.
-paghat the ratgirl
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paghat wrote:

What about clearing the leaves from the crowns of perennials?
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Travis in Shoreline (just North of Seattle) Washington
USDA Zone 8b
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Ima Googler wrote:

I put about 6" on my vegetable garden each fall. I spread some bloodmeal on top of that, and then put a tarp over it. When a warm, dry week of spring comes, I pull off the tarp, and till it under. By the time I plant my tomato transplants in May, I have a very loamy and fertile soil.
I couldn't imagine leaving that thick as mulch. It's not very attractive. And as it settles when it gets wet, it would cut off any oxygen supply to something growing there. I suppose if you fluff it up often enough that could be overcome, but that sounds like a lot of work when the layer is that thick. If you have to dig instead of rake to fluff it, it seems to me that it's a bit too much.
Leaf mould, and even shredded leaves, IMHO, make a great soil amendment. But I think there are better things to use as mulch.
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Warren H.

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funny, I was just admiring mine yesterday, thinking it looked very spring-like with the tulips and all poking thru.

something
Why do you say that? This isn't landscape fabric. Air will always get through.
suppose if you fluff it up often enough that could be overcome,

have to

I find the 4-6" mulch added after freeze-up is gone by end-May, the worms pull it into the soil.

But I

On the contrary, it seems like the dream amendmenet. It protects my bulbs through winter, prevents hot/cold swings, keeps the growing tips hidden from freak cold spells, retains moisture, and gets completely incorporated into the soil without being reworked by mid-Spring. What's not to love?
It's also free, and I keep it out of our overtaxed landfills.
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Leon Trollski wrote:

I guess you didn't plonk me like you said you did.
I don't particularly find grey an attractive color for mulch, nor is the flakey texture very attractive to me.

Landscape fabric allows air and water to pass. A matted layer of leaves, shredded or not, does not.

Perhaps things are different where you are, but the places I put 6" of shredded leaves on (my idle vegetable garden) still have 3"+ in spring. It's partially decompossed, but mostly just compressed, and turning/turned into mould. And I don't know of many worms that will come above the frost line in winter. If I take a shovel, and try to poke through the layer, it's like trying to cut through a thick rubber layer. That's why I till it into the soil, where it becomes the greatest ammendment I could find.

On the contrary? You /agreed/ with me that shredded leaves make a great soil amendment. As for a winter protection mulch, it's good, too. But a 4-6" thick layer that's been matted down all winter and has turned grey and flakey is not something that I can find dozens of better mulches than.

That's right.
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Warren H.

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Shredded leaves absolutely do let water pass, I do this every year. I find the look of leaf mulch far superior to anything else in a perennial garden, and the vegetable garden benefits from a healthy layer between rows to keep down weeds.
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Ann, gardening in Zone 6a
South of Boston, Massachusetts
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Ann wrote:

I didn't say shredded leaves don't let water pass. I said a "matted layer of leaves", and the context was 4-6". That's very different than an inch or two that's kept fluffed.
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Warren H.

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of
two
They're not as impermeable as you may think. And I don't even bother shredding mine.
But landscape fabric is horrible. Water passes, air does not. Bacteria and microbiota do not. So what it gets you is nice dead soil.
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attractive.
I thought I'd give our relationship another try.
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Don't bother removing the old mulch.
Just set it on fire and see what happens!!!!

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