The dreaded fall chore of raking up fallen leaves may actually be doing more harm than good. 

The beauty of fall foliage is quickly replaced by groans of protest when it comes time to rake it all up. Between power blowers and city-wide collection services, leaf removal and disposal are a big business. Environmental experts actually suggest you leave it all where it is, and let the leaves serve as groundcover for a variety of wildlife.

Others remind you that decaying leaves actually enriches the soil in your yard. That's always a good thing!

You can speed along the decomposition by running over fallen leaves with your lawnmower, effectively creating a fine mulch. According to Scott's, you should remove the grass-catching component on your mower and simply run over dry leaves in your yard as if you're cutting the grass. You can also add some of the dried leaves whole to a compost pile or bin. Just be sure to balance your "brown to green" ratio of composting materials.

If you do choose to rake up your leaves (or have a bossy homeowners' association), make sure you use paper bags so they can be mulched with yard waste. Many municipalities will dump anything in plastic garbage bags in a landfill, regardless of the contents.

Even if you're in the no-raking camp, you should clear your sidewalks and pathways so they don't get slimy when it rains or snows. 

Where do you stand on this issue? Do you rake up every leaf or leave some winter blankets for the critters? Let us know in the comments!