The days are growing cooler—and shorter. The leaves are falling, decorating the backyard in hues of red, orange, and yellow. There’s no denying it, fall is upon us! Obviously, preparing your pool for closing depends on what part of the country you are in. If you plan on using a pool heater to extend the season, here are some tips to get your pool ready for fall, before that safety cover goes on.

If you would like to close your pool sooner rather than later, you can begin this process by giving the pool a thorough cleaning. Remove any dirt and debris from the water, skimmer, and basket, and carefully brush the sides and bottoms to remove any stains. Add shock and algaecide—but not on the same day—or the chlorine will destroy the algaecide. The pool should be shocked approximately a week before you close it. Then, balance the water, and monitor the levels until you close the pool. Backwash the filter to remove all contaminants. It’s important to keep the filter running to maintain the proper water balance throughout the days leading up to the closing. Remove all pool equipment, storing it in a safe place. Take the time to completely drain the pool cleaner and hose before you store it, and do not coil your pool cleaner hose too tightly. Now you are ready to buy a pool winterizing kit to chemically treat the water. Finally, put on your pool safety cover and take down your removable mesh fence!

For those of you who plan on extending your swim season, there are some additional steps to take to get the most out of it during the cooler weather. Skim your pool more often, so those falling leaves don’t stain the bottom of the pool. You may want to make it a part of your daily routine to ensure sparkling clean water! You will also have to empty the skimmer more often. And don’t neglect the vacuuming and brushing to maintain that pristine water condition. Since it’s likely that less people are using the pool, you can run the pump and filter less often—and use less chemicals. Just be vigilant in testing the water chemistry to ensure proper levels. It may also be a good time to give the pool a close inspection since it is being used less. Fix and repair any leaks so your water levels remain constant. Then, when you are ready to close the pool, simply follow the steps above!

You can still enjoy the backyard when your pool is closed for the season. Plant some fall flowers and shrubs that complement your pool cover color, hang some tea lights, and add some cozy blankets and fluffy pillows to the patio furniture. Breathe in the crisp, cool air. Install a fire pit at a safe distance from the pool, and star gaze until your heart’s content!