I'm never clear, at this time of year, how much sweeping away to do. I've already broken the shells of two snails while pulling dead leaves from where they'd blown under box bushes and, although I don't want snails in my garden, if I were a snail, I'd rather be re-located than half squashed. Their shells can heal so I've taken them to a new home - though I imagine their lives will be difficult and painful for a while; possibly truncated.
I never know, I've never known how to know, how much cover I should leave over-winter for creatures to live and sleep in. I had, for a while, what Lia Leendertz called a 'dead hedge' but it got in the way so I dismantled it and set up a new structure behind the fatsia - where the wall of the garden and the wall of the house form a neat and discreet corner. A few weeks ago the smell of damp, possibly of mould, began to waft from the cupboard under the stairs. It took me a while to work out why. I'd overloaded the pile. What had once been an almost bone dry, freestanding square of old branches had turned into a wet cone leaning against the bricks above the damp-course. I'd been chucking spent potting compost on top. Where else could I put it?
Not that creatures had ever taken to it. They much prefer to hide under bushes and in flower pots; presumably to be close to next spring's food source.
Leaves fall in forests and stay where they are. It seems to work. Trees and plants don't get all diseased because no-one has been by with a broom. It's true that the paths look better where I've raked the gravel - and it's a small garden so this matters. But what price looks for a life?