It is a good time to do yard work before winter, such as gathering leaves. There are alternatives to burning those leaves. The smoke causes air pollution and adversely affects people with respiratory ailments and allergies. Leaves can be good mulch and compost, except for pine needles which are only good for weed block. I place thin layers of pine needles around trees and next to the house and around flowers in the flower garden, to inhibit weed growth.
To turn leaves into mulch for perennial plants, it's best to shred the leaves by mowing with a bagger or raking after mowing.
Before you add mulch, clear away dead foliage and weeds from the plant beds. When the soil freezes, then spread the mulch, 2 to 3 inches deep.
For composting, mix the leaves with grass trimmings or weeds, (that have not gone to seed) and livestock manure or commercial fertilizer to speed up the process. For those who don't have room to make compost, many trash services collect leaves to produce compost for commercial sale.