This photo is of my square foot garden in Virginia just after I put it in. I didn't build the vertical frames till later. Or put the stones in that I mention in my post till later. I don't think I have a good picture of what it looked like with the other improvements.
I do square foot gardening. I have my current endeavors set up in that format. I haven't done true raised beds. There are a lot of books about square foot gardening written my Mel Bartholomew. I have the one printed by Rodale with a copyright of 1981 it is called Square Foot Gardening. It might be one of his first books so some of the others might have more info. different ideas more elaborated on than what I have.
My first experience was in Virginia. I did the mix for The Perfect Soil for the Perfect Garden he has in his book. We made a few changes. I have 6 4'x4' squares laid out we only replaced the first 3 inches instead of 6 inches and we left out the wood ashes and charcoal and we only did half of the recommended ingredients. We guessed on the lime, which was needed in Virginia but don't use that in Utah it is to fix acidic soil, because we didn't have a coffee can. I used spikes and string to make sure I got everything measured out correctly. We only did the squares and left the walk dirt. Eventually I found 12 inch by 12 inch concrete block sold at Home Depot or Lowe's and purchased enough gray ones to go around each square with a red one at each corner. It was a lot of work it ended up pretty in the end. Also if you replace the soil 3 inches for 6 squares it cost around 100 dollars and that was a 8 years ago and the concrete squares cost about the same. I have a mold for the 12 inch by 12 inch squares so I make them myself with Quickcrete. It is suppose to cost approximately 50 cents a piece that way.
I also built some of the vertical supports. That is when I realized even though he makes it sound easy he is a engineer and I am not. I found it quit difficult. I have found out from neighbors who are trying it there are a lot more options out there than there was 8 years ago. They ordered a lot of there stuff from gardening places or got it at Lowe's. They have kits now but they are around 60 dollars.
Back to my Virginia experience. When I put the concrete squares in I raised the soil level in each square to be even and the path way to be even with the concrete squares it raised the grow bed by only 1 1/2 to 2 inches above the grass around the garden plot. I do know if you raise it by more it can dry out quicker and require more water especially in Utah. My mom has raised beds of about 2 feet and they dry out so when she plants she has to wet the seeds two to three times a day instead of just once or twice if it is really windy and some times she has commented it dries out too much. The advantage with the raised beds is you have less weeding to do. When we replaced the first 3 inches we had next to no weeding for the first year the next two we had an increase in weeding and we had wet years so my garden wasn't as successful as the first year.
In Utah we have been here 5 years. The first year I didn't do much. We have a lot of flower beds and landscaping done in the front and back yards so I have used them to plant vegetables in. Some of the beds are too big so I have to walk on the dirt a bit more. I have been trying to put stepping stones in key places so I can weed and take care of them without walking on the flower bed. I haven't had large success with this method but we did get some pumpkins out of it this past year. And I had some acorn squash come up volunteer on me next to the house a couple years back. I don't know where the seeds came from for those. I have been surprised that Zucchini hasn't grown well for me. Part of that was my fault the first year I tried it I put it under a blossoming cherry so I think that it didn't get enough sun. The next year I killed it again some how. I put it in a sunny place but maybe it didn't get enough water. Some people have problems with watering plants too much. I am sure my problem is they die from lack of water. The plants that do well in my yard don't mind being neglected for long periods of time. I better stop now so I don't make this too long of a read. I might have done that already.