Raised bed gardens can reduce the need for tilling and weeding, make better use of space for planting and can yield more produce per square foot than conventional gardens. You can construct raised garden beds with simple material and enjoy them year after year. Once your raised bed is established, most of the hard work is done. Take ample time up front to plan your garden and you can enjoy all the advantages of raised bed gardening.
Choose a sunny, well-drained location for your garden. Remember that a raised bed can be any shape---square, rectangular, L-shaped, round, even triangular. The bed can be made to fit in the space you have available. The area you choose should get at least six hours of sun a day and not be prone to standing water. You also need access to water for your garden.
Draw your bed on a piece of graph paper. Use a scale of inch equals one foot. Make a grid of one-inch squares in your bed, which would translate to one-foot squares in your bed.
Decide what you want to plant in your bed. Most vegetables and flowers should be planted with one plant for each square of your grid. Plant tall plants or vining plants at the back of the garden. Vines can be trained on a grid and taller plant stakes. For instance, you could plant cucumbers at the back of a vegetable garden, with tomatoes and peppers in front of these and low-growing squash and lettuce in front of these.
Intermingle different varieties of plants. If you are going to plant two tomatoes, put one at either end, with peppers and beans between.
Fill in your plant grid with smaller plants such as radishes and herbs. You can spaced plants in raised beds closer than you would in a row garden, because raised beds make better use of water and nutrients. Ideally, grown plants should just touch, shading the ground beneath, which discourages weeds and conserves water.
Think seasonal. Plan for some early season crops such as lettuce and spinach, to be replaced later in the year with warm-weather beans or tomatoes.