How to Prune a Fig Tree With a Chainsaw


Pruning fig trees is a touchy process. Although all fig trees should be cut back when they are first planted in a process called heeling back, certain fig trees should never be cut back under any other circumstances. Fig tree varieties such as Celeste should not be cut back because it will reduce fruit production. Other fig trees such as Texas Everbearing should be pruned heavily to increase the yield of figs yearly.

Step 1

Determine which variety of fig tree you have planted. There are many varieties of figs, and not all need pruning. Celeste figs rarely or ever need pruning and might be harmed by it, but Texas Everbearing can benefit from careful pruning.

Step 2

Time your pruning for late fall, winter or early spring when fig trees are dormant.

Step 3

Select branches for cutting that include all weak growth or limbs that rub or cross the center of the tree. Remove no more than 1/3 of an older tree's limbs to allow light into the tree structure and thin out weak growth.

Step 4

Tie a piece of surveyors tape around each limb you plan to remove near the point where the limb meets the trunk of the tree. This will show you which limbs to cut without requiring you to divert your attention from the saw.

Step 5

Use a ladder to stand with the branch you plan to cut at chest-height. Never cut the saw at a position higher than your shoulders, because the saw is harder to control at that height.

Step 6

Make three cuts to remove a branch. The first cut should be made through the lower 1/3 of the branch at a distance several inches beyond the point of your final cut. Your second cut should start at the top and slice downward completely through the branch at a point beyond the first cut. Your third cut should begin next to the tree just outside the bark ridge where the branch joins the tree. This cut should angle down and away. Large or heavy branches should be tied to the branches above them with a rope and pulley and lowered to the ground to prevent injury.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never carry a chainsaw up a ladder; it's dangerous. Instead, climb the ladder and pull the chainsaw up to you with a rope. Then start the chain saw and operate it from the ladder. When you have finished using your saw, shut it off and lower it to the ground with a rope before descending your ladder. Always wear protective clothing, shoes, gloves, a hard hat and safety goggles when using a chain saw on a tree.

Things You'll Need

  • Chainsaw
  • Ladder
  • Plastic surveyors tape
  • Ropes
  • Pulleys


  • United States Department of Agriculture: How to Prune Trees
  • University of Missouri Extension: Basic Chain Saw Safety and Use
  • Texas A&M University Extension: Home fruit Production - Figs
  • N.C. State University Cooperative Extension: Fig Trees

Who Can Help

  • University of Maine Extension: Chain Saw Safety
Keywords: chain saw safety, pruning fig trees, thinning old trees, pruning figs chainsaw

About this Author

Tracy S. Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published two novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World."