The Ultimate Guide To Keeping Leaves Out Of Your Pool

leaves in pool

Today I’m going to show you how to keep those pesky leaves out of your pool …


When you’re done reading this post, you’ll have a whole bunch of options available at your fingertips so you’ll never see another leaf in your pool again.

The best part?

I’ll even show you five quick tips for removing all the leaves that are already in your pool.

Let’s dive in!

leaves in pool

Use a winter pool cover

A pool cover is a good idea for a ton of reasons, but keeping leaves and debris out of the water is one of the main ones. 

A pool cover can be set up with a system to either manually or automatically roll it up when not in use—otherwise, they can be time-consuming and heavy to put on the pool every night if you use your pool a lot. 

These are also a little harder to clean up before removing if they have accumulated a lot of debris and/or moisture.

If you’re going to use your winter pool cover all year long, I highly recommend using a leaf net with it to make clean-up a little easier.

You will probably also need a pool cover pump to remove dirty water from the cover. 

Otherwise, you’ll end up dumping gunk into the pool that will throw off your chemical levels—and that’s exactly what we’re trying to prevent.

Use a mesh pool cover

Mesh safety covers are a great option for keeping the leaves out of the water, but also keeping water from pooling on top and making it sag.

These allow rainwater or stray sprinkler water to seep through the cover, but keep bigger debris, like leaves out. 

All covers will require cleaning off when you remove them so that you don’t dump the leaves into the pool, but mesh covers make that job a little bit easier.

Depending on the size of your pool, you can either use a pool brush, a water hose, a large broom or a leaf blower to sweep the leaves off. (The leaf blower is, by far, the most fun.)

Use a leaf net cover

Leaf net covers can be used in addition to your regular pool cover or by themselves.

Using them on top of your solid pool cover makes clean up easier when it’s time to re-open the pool—it’s much lighter than a solid cover, so you simply remove it before the regular cover to clear off the debris. 

Using it alone is a good idea where you have a pretty bad leaf problem—just put the cover on any time your pool is not in use so you can easily clear leaves away before you swim.

They also help a little with shielding the water from UV rays that like to eat up your chlorine

Maintain your lawn

You’ll have fewer problems if you stay on top of your landscaping as well as you do your pool care.

Your trees should be trimmed back quite a bit every few years to keep dead branches from falling into the pool, and may also help to cut any branches hanging over the pool to prevent excess leaf waste if you want to. 

Also, use a bag when you mow to cut down on the amount of grass clippings and other flying debris end up in the water.

Smart landscaping

If you haven’t already planted anything around your pool, don’t worry—you don’t have to have bare landscaping to keep your pool clean!

There are lots of pool-friendly plants you can use: for example, tropical trees and plants are usually great because they have large leaves that don’t leave a big mess when they do shed.

It’s much easier to pick up one giant palm leaf than a hundred and twenty maple leaves after all! Also, choose plants that don’t flower or produce fruit.  

But if you don’t feel you can successfully grow tropical plants in your climate, choose other types of trees like dogwood or crabapple.

Smaller trees are easier to keep trimmed and away from the pool.

Shrubs are another good way to add a little protection around the pool to keep out debris—just make sure they don’t shed leaves themselves or you’ll just be adding to the problem. 

Use a retaining wall

Retaining walls can add a bit more privacy as well as keeping unwanted material out of the water.

Shrubs, like we talked about, make good retaining walls, but you can do all sorts of things to suit your preferences.

For example, low fences or storage boxes can be installed as retaining walls and they can be made as simple or as decorative as you wish. 

5 ways to remove leaves from your pool

Let’s face it: despite your best efforts, you will occasionally have to fight those pesky leaves in the pool.

And what if you forgot to put the pool cover on when you left for vacation?

You probably came home to several layers of gunk and leaves you’ve got to deal with!

In these situations, there are more options than just scooping them out with a pool net.

1. Use a skimmer net

Pool nets are the go-to tool for everyday leaf clean-up, but if your pool has been left unattended, the leaves might be too heavy or it will take hours and hours to remove them all. 

2. Use a leaf rake

Leaf rakes are tools made especially for removing leaves and large debris from pools.

They look a lot like skimmer nets and attach to your pool pole the same way—the difference is that they’re made much larger, with a deeper net, and more durably. 

They’re also made with rubber rims so they scoop up smaller particles better than regular nets. So, not only are they great for large debris, they work wonders on the small stuff too!

Leaf rakes take a little practice to use correctly and there are a few techniques to make the work best.

Mainly, you have to practice to find a speed of moving the rake that works for you—too quickly and you won’t collect any debris, too slowly and you will lose half of what you pick up.

  • Push. Just like a push broom, you’ll push the rake across the surface of the water, allowing the leaves to collect in the basket. Once the net has reached the opposite side, you’ll then flip the net quickly and pull it back towards you to collect more leaves.
  • Pull. Another way to pull the net to you while collecting the most leaves is to slant the net at a slight angle while pulling it to you from the other side of the pool.
  • Drag. Walking all around the pool, you will just drag the rake behind you with the net opening facing down into the water. You’ll probably want to keep it very close to the edge of the pool since this is where the leaves are the hardest to get.

3. Use a leaf vac

For extreme cases, when the leaves are too deep and heavy to just use a regular pool vacuum or a net, you need something a little stronger, such as a heavy duty leaf vac.

Also sometimes called a leaf gulper or leaf eater, this contraption attaches to your water hose and the pressure powers jets that force huge amounts of leaves up into it’s large leaf collection bag. 

4. Use a pool skimmer

If you consistently have leaves in your pool, you can lower the main drain suction to increase the suction of the skimmers—this will help them to pull larger debris in.

But, you still have to be vigilant with this one.

In order to keep your skimmer from getting clogged, you’ll have to empty your skimmer baskets daily. 

You also still might have to use a net to get out any debris that didn’t make it to the skimmer.

5. Use a leaf trap

Leaf traps, or leaf canisters, are made to be attached to your manual pool vacuuming system. 

It does still require the work of manually vacuuming out the leaves, but these canisters are large enough to catch a lot of leaves so that you are not having to stop and empty out your pump basket every couple of minutes. 

Bottom line

As you can see, you do have some options when it comes to keeping leaves out and removing them from your pool.

The method you choose just depends on how big your pool is, how many leaves tend to accumulate, and what is most convenient for you. 

My recommendation?

If you have a big leaf problem, such as when you have deciduous trees planted nearby, purchase a leaf net cover.

You can use it both by itself for quick daily removal during swim season or with your winter cover to make opening your pool a lot easier. You’ll occasionally still have to skim manually, but if you are spending most of your time cleaning leaves out, this can be a big time-saver. 

Most people use more than one of these methods when battling leaves.

Let us know what works for you!

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