Let leaves that have fallen around the base of plants stay there—they are Mother Nature’s mulch protecting roots. Blowing leaves out of shrubs destroys the habitat for many beneficial insects that winter over in leaf litter, and exposes roots to frost and thaw cycles. Leaves that have fallen on the lawn are best run over by your mulching lawn mower. By spring they will have returned the nutrients they needed to grow to your soil. Your mower should be set at 2 inches for the balance of the season.