A lightning strike splits atmospheric nitrogen and creates nitrogen dioxide. Nitrogen dioxide is a common ingredient in fertilizers that contributes to grass growth. So, lightning strikes can increase available nitrogen in the soil. However, the effectiveness of lightning strikes as soil fertilizer has not been scientifically tested. While we know the electrical energy of a lightning storm does help fertilize the ground to some degree, we’re not sure if it’s enough to make a noticeable difference in your lawn.
Table of Contents
Does Lightning Affect the Grass?
Lightning contains enough energy to split an atmospheric nitrogen molecule. This molecule separates into nitrogen atoms which are then free to mix with dioxide molecules. This produces nitrogen dioxide, which is a common fertilizing agent. This heavier molecule then sinks through the air into the ground where it can be used by your grass or other plants.
- Lightning splits nitrogen molecules into nitrogen atoms.
- Free nitrogen atoms bond with oxygen to create nitrogen dioxide.
- Nitrogen dioxide created by lightning falls to earth and adds nitrogen to the soil.
- Nitrogen dioxide is used by grass and other plants to produce green growth.
This process is known as atmospheric nitrogen fixation. It is an important part of the nitrogen cycle and is one of the ways in which plants get nitrogen for growth. So, it may not be much but your grass can get some extra nitrogen from lightning strikes.
Why Does Grass Look Green After a Thunderstorm?
Grass most likely looks greener immediately after a thunderstorm due to the rain. Rain saturates plants causing them to look greener. It also helps to rinse off the dust that may make your grass look dull.
- Grass gets washed clean of dust by rain, helping it to look greener.
- Rain also helps saturate the green color of plants and make it look more vibrant.
- Nitrogen provided by lightning would take days to green up grass—additional nitrogen in the soil does not provide overnight results.
While lightning does fertilize the ground, how much nitrogen it provides based on the proximity of the lightning strike has not been studied in-depth. It’s important to note that nitrogen fertilizers don’t turn grass green immediately. Even the fastest-acting fertilizers take 2–5 days to green up your yard. So, if your grass looks greener immediately after a storm, it’s typically because your grass has been washed and hydrated by rain.
Does Lightning Fertilize the Ground?
Lightning can help produce natural fertilizer for your lawn. Nitrogen gas composed of airborne nitrogen molecules is split into various nitrogen atoms by a bolt of lightning. These extra nitrogen atoms then combine with oxygen molecules and work their way into the ground. Once there, they become a great source of nitrogen fertilizer for green grass and other plants.
- Energy from lightning makes raw nitrogen into nitrogen compounds that act as a natural fertilizer.
- If the lightning is close enough to where you live, this means your lawn will be fertilized during a lightning storm.
Most natural fertilizer takes 2–5 days to start working. So if you think you think you have greener grass immediately after a storm, it’s likely your imagination. However, if you notice greener grass a few days later, perhaps the lightning bolt did play a role.
Does Lightning Put Nitrogen in the Soil?
Lightning does jumpstart the nitrogen cycle which does put nitrogen in the soil. Once there, each blade of grass absorbs the nitrogen and gets the energy to spur greater growth.
- A bolt of lightning carries enough energy to create new nitrogen compounds.
- Rainfall helps to water newly created nitrogen compounds into the ground.
The process of nitrogen absorption is assisted by rainfall. Tons of nitrate are pushed into the ground by rainfall. Thus a lightning storm without rainfall probably would not put as much nitrogen into the soil.
Is Lightning Good for Your Garden?
Obviously, a direct lightning strike would be very bad for your plants. Lightning will scorch what it hits, likely killing it. Additionally, lightning during dry conditions can spark fires.
- Direct lightning strikes are not good for your garden.
- However, indirect lightning helps produce fertilizer for grass and other garden plants.
A bolt of lightning can produce nitrogen atoms. When these atoms go through the nitrogen cycle to fertilize the ground, they benefit all of your plants. Thus, lightning is good for your garden because it helps with the intake of nitrogen.
Why Does the Grass Look So Green After a Thunderstorm?
A lightning storm most likely makes grass green because of all the rain. Though some think lightning helps make grass green, there has been no scientific confirmation to measure the benefits of lightning versus standard rainfall. However, we do know lightning can introduce nitrogen to the soil. Let’s recap the important role lightning plays in the nitrogen cycle:
- Lightning shatters the bonds of nitrogen molecules into nitrogen atoms.
- These atoms combine with ambient oxygen atoms and molecules to form nitrogen compounds.
- Rain helps to bring the nitrogen to the soil level where plants can absorb it.
- This natural fertilizer is a key ingredient in the growth of grass and other plants.
It’s important to keep in mind that all types of precipitation help to bring nitrogen down from the atmosphere to the ground. Rainfall, sleet, hail, and snow all contribute to the nitrogen cycle. However, it’s possible lightning provides an added bonus and contributes more nitrogen to your lawn.