One of the very basic and down right absolute first have-to's of owning and properly maintaining your own pool is being able to ensure that you keep the chemistry of the water balanced out. A pH of 7.4 is optimal, but hard to maintain exactly, so anywhere from plus or minus about .3 for that is definitely OK. Adjusters for pH should be available at most major pool stores and their associates will most likely have plenty of knowledge on how to help and what products you should need for your specific situation, including chlorine shocks, acid, and algaecides.
Taking the time necessary to perform the tedious task of cleaning out debris like leaves, twigs, bugs, and other such things out of the pool, especially those begin to accumulate and that float on the surface, is a 100% vital step to maintaining a clean and usable pool. All of this organic debris is not only unsightly, but it will almost certainly foster the growth of bacteria, algae and the like. By leaving all of this to decompose it will wreck the balanced pH of your water, and can cause even more trouble when trying to balance that out. Removing these things is essential to prevention of further and unnecessary maintenance, effort and stress on your part and will help ensure not only cleaner, but also more sanitary swimming experience for longer.
One of the best ways to prevent any algae from growing in your pool and creating a slick surface all around, as well as turning the water green, is too keep all of the water in the pool moving. Algae can't grab ahold of any surfaces as long as the water is circulating. By keeping the pump going on and off for certain periods of non-use, you will be able to keep a large portion of algae from forming. Not only that, but this will also allow the pump to grab smaller pieces of debris into the filter, and will continue to keep your pool up to date.
By purchasing a self-powered vacuum pump from any pool store you would be making the final step in continuously keeping your pool in top-notch shape through pool maintenance. These vacuums can be easily hooked up to the pool's water pump system and be left alone for a few hours. Then, while the vacuum pump rummages around the depths of the water, it will scrub the tiny layers of bacteria and algae that have formed from the bottom of the pool and will filter and clean the water, saving you not only loads of energy and time, but a good amount of effort as well. That means more time to swim in your pool, and less time spent having to clean it unnecessarily.