Raised beds lend themselves to the development of complex agriculture systems that utilize many of the principles and methods of permaculture. They can be used effectively to control erosion and recycle and conserve water and nutrients by building them along contour lines on slopes.
The first step is to calculate the dimensions on the inside of the garden bed, which is the length and width that is actually usable for planting. If you bought your beds from a commercial source, then chances are, the interior dimensions are probably a little less than the advertised size.
The 4x8 foot garden beds I bought, for instance, are 4x8 feet from end to end. But when you connect the boards at the corners, you lose a few inches, so the interior dimensions of the garden bed are actually a few inches short of the advertised size. In my case, my beds have an interior dimension of 46.25 inches x 94 inches. I refer to these dimensions as Usable Length for the remainder of this article.
Circular raised beds with a path to the center (a slice of the circle cut out) are called keyhole gardens. Often the center has a chimney of sorts built with sticks and then lined with feedbags or grasses that allows water placed at the center to flow out into the soil and reach the plants roots.