Posted: 28/10/2012 at 18:10
KatyH- You cannot guarentee that, even if the existing tree owners are willing to maintain the trees now, future owners will, sorry. So accepting that you have a partly shaded garden in the wet Nwest is half the battle.
One thing though that does come to mind about the wetness that is- are other neighbours gardens also as damp? You'll know whereabouts you are in relation to slopes, streams etc, but your property should have land drains to deal with some of the possible dampness. Is your underlying soil clay? If that has compacted then it'll act as a barrier to any water/moisture draining away.
So, I agree rotten decking not sensible with children & pets & in any shade it'll always be slippy. You can however get ridged concrete slabs I think that would be a better surface -something to consider for paving in the shadier area if needed.
Accept that a lawn can be ok, sort of, in a part shade garden, but will get moss & never be a 'bowling green'. Then with children & pets.... BTW you can get turf/grass seed more suited to shade.
Re landscapers- ask neighbours who may have used people, ask in local GC who they know. The GC may also offer a design/construction service themselves.
There are lots of 'easy', shade loving plants & shrubs, so they can be planted once you have the groundwork in place. Read as much as possible in advance- the winter months are ideal for doing that. Beth Chatto- Damp garden, Woodland garden & others by her are inspirational- local library may also have some good books.
Hope that this hasnt been too negative? Be realistic with what time, effort & finance you are prepared to spend & then you wont be dissapointed. J.