I plan on maintaining the landscape of my rental properties, at least in the beginning.
As a courtesy, I intend of giving the tenants prior notice with my planned arrival date/time, but is it required by law that I do this?
I understand that I need to provide them with prior notice if I intend on entering the living spaces, but does the same hold true for the yard area?
The property is in Pierce County, Washington.
Chris, if the rental agreement spells out that landlord is responsible for maintaining the yard, I don't believe that you need to give them any notice for that. You are correct that you will need to provide a notice if you intend to enter the house. Some laws are state specific so you may want to double check with real estate attorney in your state (I'm not an attorney and this is not legal advice).
Yard work responsibilities will be spelled out in the lease but I will stick to open and consistent communication.
Chris, if it's a fenced yard, SFR, with them having primary yard responsibility, I would give them notice for any time you need to go inside the gate other than knock on the door to collect rent, serve notice, etc, out of respect for their privacy. If it's a duplex or a property where you are responsible for yard work, no notice needed each time, but giving them a schedule or heads up might help with belongings being up off the lawn, especially in summer. If we are removing a tree, exterior painting, or doing something that is inconvenient, we give a courtesy notice. If you can text or e-mail them, it is easy to try to give them a heads up whenever possible. Showing up at random is a great way to monitor the property, but it needs to be balanced with the fact that they don't want the landlord hanging around or breathing down their throat.