SunlightForecasters predict a warm-up with highs in the 40s and 50s tomorrow for much of southern and central Iowa, which presents an opportunity for homeowners to get a jump on their spring lawn care duties. Extension educator John Fech says much of the region had very dry weather heading into winter and dormant plants could likely use a drink.

Fech says, “If you have a chance, prioritize and pick out the plants that are most important to you, roses or shrubs, and attach a soaker hose temporarily on days when you’re 40 degrees or above.” Make sure to disconnect and drain the hose when you’re done, he reminds, to prevent plumbing problems when it freezes again.

When it’s bitter cold, he says it’s better if you don’t walk on your lawn at all, as that crunching grass underfoot will have a hard time recovering. “Forget about those little trips out to fill the bird feeder and to dump stuff on the compost pile,” Fech says. “Generally, it’s a good idea to stay off of frosty turf. Sometimes, those things will injure the crown of the plant.”

Don’t step on your frozen grass, he says, unless you absolutely can’t avoid it. “If you have to do it, go ahead and do it, but keep in mind that you may have a strip of turf or some footprints through the turf that aren’t doing so well in the spring,” Fech says. “If that’s the case, those just might take a longer time to recover.”

The National Weather Service is calling for high temperatures in many parts of Iowa to rise Friday and Saturday to unseasonable highs in the 40s and 50s, while highs are predicted to slip back into the 30s next week, with lows back in the teens.

Karla James contributed to this report.