Leaves in flowerbeds

I have several flowerbeds covered in last years' leaves. Should I leave them on before I cover with bark mulch? or will the decaying cause disease? Thanks.
Submitted by BHGPhotoContest

Tree leaves should not spread disease problems  to your flowering perennials, but if they are thick enough on the beds to pack down, they could smother the perennials or keep them so wet that the perennials could develop rot. If the old perennial plant foliage is part of the mix, there could be disease spores on the old leaves of the perennials. It's safest to clean out the beds and compost the material before reapplying it to the beds.


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