Answer: The answer would depend on how thick the layer of leaves is. If there is just a sprinkling of chopped leaf bits, in my experience, it does not harm the lawn to leave them in place. However, if the layer is at all thick and/or if it mats down, then it can cause problems. If there are a lot of leaves, it is usually better to use the mulching mower (or a rake or blower) to collect them and then use the leaves for composting or as a soil amendment in the vegetable garden or in some other constructive way.
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