Spring natural yard maintenance
Last summer we moved to Raleigh from Michigan, and bought a home on a natural lot, filled with trees, shrubs and ground cover. The yard maintenance guy blew leaves from the slate/stone walkways and driveway into the ground cover/shrub beds (not at my direction), and many gum-balls and pine cones have also fallen into the beds/areas. Should I be raking them back out this Spring? The beds are composed of pachysandra, myrtle, and ivy, with some ferns, bulbs, azaleas, assorted shrubs and trees. I'm really not sure how to maintain these areas. As an aside, there is a composter that came with the house, and a rain barrel system, but I've not figured out how to use either of them yet.
Also, I had him blow the leaves into the areas where the trees are thick and there is no grass, to dispose of the leaves and increase the mulch to keep down weeds. Is it appropriate to leave them there to decompose or is that problematic? I'm trying to keep the weeds down in those areas without spraying with toxic chemicals. The only lawn in the entire 1.6A lot is the border of the road and the septic field, so not much, and it doesn't seem to grow real well, probably due to the shade and trees, right?
I've gardened on and off all of my adult life, but I'm not familiar with the foliage here, nor have I cared for a natural setting, and would like to keep it looking as lovely as they did (without the toxic chemicals!)