Trimming or pruning fig trees will not only increase the vigor and fruit production of the tree, but will aid in the reduction of a winter kill. While not all fig trees will respond well to heavy trimming, most all fig varieties will benefit from some trimming, especially the removal of all dead wood.
Cut back a newly transplanted fig tree to half of the young tree's original height with the pruning shears. This will stimulate growth to the side, or lateral, branches of the tree. According to Fort Valley State University the newly planted fig tree should be cut back immediately after planting.
Prune the fig tree during its second and third dormant seasons. Dormant season is when all leaves have fallen from the tree in late fall to winter. This will consist of removing all dead wood branches. Cut the top leading branches of the fig tree to control the overall height of the tree. Keeping the tree to a compact height will reduce the amount of tree area exposed to any freezing cold temperatures that could injure the limbs.
Remove any multiple trunks that may form at the roots on the base of the tree. Keep only the largest or strongest trunk as the main portion coming from the ground. Larger woody portions of tree removal will require the use of a pruning saw.
Treat all large wounds on the fig tree with some type of tree wound dressing. The wound dressing will protect the cut from any invading insects which may bore into the open wound created by heavy pruning.
Trim any inward growing limbs. This will open up the tree and allow for more air circulation to the interior of the tree.