We have a lot of pine trees on our property, and they kind of drive me nuts.
I like grass, and it's hard to keep the grass looking nice with pine needles everywhere.
We also have Magnolia trees, but thankfully they're no where near the pool. Still, the grass suffers, to say the least.
But the pine trees are close to the pool, and inevitably there are a bunch of pine needles that make their way into our pool, which are difficult to clean out with a net.
Does the filter catch them?
The filter will pick up a lot, but after awhile a bunch of them will just sort of stick to the sides or sink to the ground. It just depends on how long they've been in the pool. It's a pain, but certainly fixable if you have the right type of vacuum.
Best Vacuums for Pine Needles (my top 3 picks)
I've put together this table with some of my picks. We have the Dolphin Premier (one of the models from a few years ago) which does a great job of getting pine needles, particularly off the sides of the pool (it scales the sides which is still sort of crazy to me). You can see the Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus also does this:
If you have questions, I can help out in the comments section if need be. Note we've included the newer version of the Dolphin Premier as our second choice.
Dolphin Nautilus CC Plus
Better price than most similar models, and easier to maneuver than the Premier. Scheduling is a must for some folks, so that should be considered. The Nautilus is one of the few series that'll get you this type of cleaner for under $1k. Check updated pricing below.
This is the one my wife and I use for our pool. It's powerful and good for going after grime, which I'd recommend for pools with an older liner. Ours is going to need replaced soon, but in the mean time, the Premier does a good job of keeping it looking decent. Though if pine needles are your only/top priority, you might be better off saving some money with one of the other two smaller options.
This one is a bit smaller and gets the harder to reach areas a little better, including steps, which is going to be a better option if pine needles are your priority. Filter canisters are really easy to change, but there's nothing mentioned about scheduling.
Price Guide for the Dolphin Nautilus
Since the Nautilus is our top pick here, we've included a price guide with multiple entries for Amazon and a few from Walmart as well.
Are pine needles more of a problem for pool vacuums?
The only reason pine needles might pose more of a problem for pool vacuums is because of their size and shape.
Have you ever tried to vacuum one off the carpet?
It's more stubborn because it's longer and harder for the sweeping motion to pick up. This is the same issue you'll have when cleaning your pool. Now that doesn't mean the pool vacuums can't do it, because they certainly can.
But they'll need to be able to get into the corners and do a thorough job in hard to reach places.
If you have leftovers that the robot can't get, the next paragraph might be worth considering.
Would a standard hose hook up be better?
The non-robotic method might be a good way to finish the pine needle job.
If you have the standard hose hook up with the vacuum that you use by hand, that can be a good way to get the more stubborn spots where pine needles tend to curate.
You could even try the net skimmer option, though that could be trickier in corners. Of course this is far less convenient than the robot, but if you want to fine tune it, you might need to put in a little bit of human labor.
Can pine needles mess up the pool filter?
A pool filter will usually do a really good job of catching pine needles and there's no significant risk to the filter.
The problem is that a lot of pine needles tend to group in one spot and manage to evade the filter.
But for the ones that do get there, there's little (if any) risk of causing harm to the filter.
Conclusion and Questions
These robots can definitely handle pine needles and most other typical pool residue. They're made to vacuum and to give your pool liner a kind of scrubbing that helps keep things consistently looking clean.
While you can use the tube vacuum (the handheld one) and net option to clean up, I'd see what the robot can do first, then spot check wherever is needed.
Sometimes the robot will be enough.
If you have questions, let 'em rip in the comments section below and I'll help out as much as possible.