One of the perks of having the smallest house on the block is that you have the biggest back yard. Combine that with three big trees, and smattering of medium-sized ones, and you get a sense of the scale of the leaf production that goes on at Un-Muddied. IANAFB (I am not a forensic botanist) but I don't think they got raked at all this past fall; there's a layer of leaves that really amounts to a mat, and while it may have done a good job keeping the ground (and its root-bundles and bulbs) from freezing too hard this winter, it is now keeping the li'l plants from getting up into the light, and, if left too long, they encourage rot in all the living plants they're meant to protect. Not to mention where the leaves gathered on and around the deck would be all bad, keeping dampness against the wood.
The thing about mulching with leaves--and composting them, too!--is that you want to shred them first, so that they can do all the good things that decomposing leaves do (warm the earth, return carbon to the soil) without trapping moisture (if you're composting, then shredding jumpstarts and speeds the process by increasing the surface area that the composting microbes can work on, as well as improving air flow through the composting material. And makes the whole pile a bit smaller!).
Problem: We don't have a mulching mower--or any mower at all! There's no grass. The internet suggests using a weed wacker inside a big garbage can, and we may be on to something. Not that we've got a weed wacker.
Brief aside: I'd always assumed "weed wacker" was a trademark, perhaps an abandoned one, but it seems not to have been, at least according to the folks who know at the USPTO. Perhaps a regionalism?
But we do have a hedge trimmer! (Thanks, previous owners!) And a pair of big ol' rolling Chicago garbage carts. And goggles. And dust masks. And leathern gloves. And a plan, a vision, a dream within a dream…
Okay, back to reality. We also have a healthy memory of Bobby Ojeda (and mine own left-middle-finger-tip-history; pins in a finger are no fun), and we'll keep our hands well clear of sharp fast-moving objects.