I'm digging a 2 feet deep french drain a few feet away from the house. I'm wondering if instead of gravel I could surround the 4" perforated pipe with packing popcorn (or peanuts, or whatever they are called). I'll be backfilling 1 foot with dirt on top.

What leads me to believe that this can work is the existence of this product:


I know that gravel works. The question is: is the popcorn really a good idea or am I going to see problems in the future.

  • 2
    Be sure not to use bio-degradable packaging, like starchtech.com/biodegradable-packing-peanuts.html
    – auujay
    Apr 18, 2011 at 20:43
  • actually styrofoam peanuts are indeed not styrofoam at all but expanded polystyrene or EPS for short. Styrofoam is a tradename by DOW Chemical that is not EPS. EPS is 100% recycleably where styrofoam is not. They are actually using blocks of EPS under highways in lieu of dirt because of its tremendous compressive strength. I am actually using EPS peanuts in a french drain and ran across this thread and had to weigh in.
    – tfentress
    Apr 24, 2018 at 3:54
  • It's all variations of polystyrene foam. The Styrofoam brand name refers to extruded polystyrene foam. What most people think of as styrofoam is expanded polystyrene foam. There's a range of densities and other characteristics.
    – fixer1234
    Apr 24, 2018 at 5:34

1 Answer 1


I don't think packing popcorn will work. I'd think it would compress and leave at best a spongy spot in your yard. Most likely you'll end up with it collapsing as soon as any weight is applied over it. The material shown in the two products you listed is a polystyrene aggregate. I don't think packing peanuts are the same exact material.

  • Good answer. Now: where do I find that exact same material? The problem with the EZ pipes at my local HD is that they didn't have the join pieces that clip them together. They turned out to be a slightly (1mm) smaller size than the regular 4" pipe so the standard joiners didn't work. My theory is that they made them like that on purpose so they can sell their own joiners (which were unfortunately not available at my local HD).
    – Peter Q
    Apr 19, 2011 at 0:54

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.