There were a few problems with my raised beds. First and foremost, being 3' wide and against a fence made it incredibly difficult to plant, harvest and weed. A secondary issue was that the placement became awkward when we did a small addition last year. And, finally, a tertiary issue was that they weren't maximizing the precious direct sunlight that side of the yard receives.
Hence, the new design:
The "arms" reaching out are to grab the sunlight that floods the center of the yard later in the day. A wider bed just going down the center wouldn't work as there wouldn't be enough room to walk around it with a wheel barrel. I learned my lesson last time: Don't neglect to plan for maintenance! In total, this bed not only utilizes available light more, but also the shape of the yard...I've got 102 sqft to plant annual vegetables and fruits.
In addition to growing food, I wanted a space where we could spread out a blanket and enjoy the sun in private. As this is the only side of our yard behind a fence that gets sun, the garden needed to be able to accommodate. I also have formally divided the space into separate beds. In the former design, I had a rough idea where one bed ended/began, but plants would always creep over. Kind of defeats the point! Each bed (represented by different colors above) is at least 24 square feet because that's what I need for my nightshade family vegetables. The very top and bottom beds are for flowers and blueberries, respectively. I still plan to tuck in marigolds and nasturtiums into the garden, but the flower bed will have some perennial flowers (to be determined!) to further attract pollinators and beneficials. I think I'll also add Japanese parsley, parsley and maybe eventually perennial onions to the bed too. We shall see.
Needless to say, I'm beyond excited at this new layout. We're still in the construction stage as a baby tends to make tasks take a little longer, but the goal is to have the beds build (already done) and filled with the growing mix (still in progress) in the next week or so. We'll still need to do things like some minor grading and covering the area in mulch, but that won't be too bad.