The best soil is that found in forests. That is because the leaves act as a natural mulch, rich in organic matter which put nutrients back into the soil. The leaves are not raked out of forests and everything decomposes in time.
Shredded leaves also make the best mulch for home landscapes. When leaves are shredded, they stay in place and look great, even in my more formal gardens. The natural browns of leaf mulch are much more aesthetically pleasing than purchased mulches. We found that the best way to shred the leaves is to rake them back onto your lawn and mow them with a shredding mower with an attached bag. Then deposit them in your garden beds. My photo shows a recently mulched area in one of my gardens.
Read more about the benefits of shredding your leaves in this article from WHYY with Mike McGrath: http://www.whyy.org/91FM/ybyg/fallleaves.html
Paula Ziegler is a local resident who has a concern for the fate of bees, butterflies, and all wildlife which inspire her to find solutions to creating wildlife habitat gardens that fit into the look of the neighborhood. Her hope is that you enjoy her blogs and perhaps start a wildlife garden of your own! Learn more about Paula at https://www.facebook.com/paulayourgardenkeeper