UCI's landscaping conforms to the circular pattern of the campus that was set out by President Kerr, Chancellor Aldrich, and architect Pereira. Their goal was to create an urban forest.
Chancellor Aldrich, an agricultural specialist, was aware of the interplay between flora and environmental conditions. He proposed to populate UCI's landscape with shrub and tree specimens from climate zones similar to those at Irvine. Additionally, he felt that the plants would function as a type of living research lab where they could be studied by faculty and students. He ultimately wanted UCI's plant life to serve aesthetic, environmental, and educational purposes.
In order to create an inviting atmosphere in an otherwise barren landscape, Aldrich proposed establishing a nursery on campus immediately so that the trees and other plants could mature while the campus developed. UCI took advantage of the University of California's Division of Agricultural Facilities at UCLA to begin germinating seeds in hot-houses and mist rooms. On October 23, 1964, the first trees planted at UCI by members of the California Alumni Council of Berkeley were 12 Eucalyptus grandis, products of UC's Division of Agricultural Facilities.
In accord with the original UCI Long-Range Development Plan of 1963, the subsequent three decades of landscaping efforts concentrated on the Central Campus, using both native and exotic plants. Landscape architects created botanical themes for the academic quadrants that were formal and urban, in contrast with other areas that used informal landscaping themes. At the center of the campus is the 21-acre Daniel Aldrich Park, which embodies the idea of the urban forest.
In 1995, Chancellor Laurel Wilkening outlined a new dimension to UCI's landscaping in the "Green and Gold Plan." The Plan's goals were to develop sustainable landscaping, maximize local and regional natural resources, improve functionality, and develop a management system to preserve UCI's plant life.
As of 2005 there are 15,000 to 20,000 trees on the entire UCI campus, more than 11,000 of them located on the Central Campus. UCI has 33 species of eucalyptus and 75 "test tube" redwood trees, representative of landmark research in tree cloning spearheaded by former UCI professor Ernest A. Ball.