You’ve got everything you need for a barbeque. You’ve got friends coming over soon, the charcoal is on, so you open up the pool, and it’s a mess! There are leaves, grass, and other trimmings strewn along the bottom and the surface is a virtual graveyard of bugs. It’s not a good look. Fortunately, with a pool skimmer, you can clean everything with just a few passes, and protect your pool pump in the process. Some skimmers do all the work for you, while others require more elbow-grease. But if you pay attention to a skimmer’s construction and materials before you buy, you can make things easier on yourself. Here are a few thoughts on how to pick your next skimmer.

You can access the basket on this product through the top or front. Hayward

Using a skimmer that also vacuums is the most thorough way to give your pool a quick refresher because it combines manual cleaning with the power of an electric pump. A skimmer attaches to the end of a long pole to catch debris where it’s sucked up and siphoned through a hose attached to your pool pump’s intake. Anytime you clean a pool with a net means there’s some physical labor involved, but you’ll be able to reach leaves and garbage that’s on the bottom.

The strainer basket on this device pulls out for an easy cleaning. Intex

If you’re not about physical labor, a wall-mounted skimmer might be the solution you’re looking for. These devices attach to your pool pump’s intake via a short hose. A skimmer basket then sits at the surface on the side of your pool and catches floating debris before it sinks. Skimmer baskets require almost no maintenance, aside from an occasional emptying and cleaning.

The attachment point on this product is universal so you can attach it to the pole of your choice. Evob

If you just want to grab material from your pool water and instantly relocate over the fence, a skimmer net and pole is a simple and economical solution. The key is finding a net with holes small enough to catch the tiniest objects but still allow water to pass through. Fiberglass is rigid but heavy, whereas aluminum poles are lightweight but can’t take as much torque pressure as you sweep through the water.