thin thatchy areas in lawn
Since you noticed very hard soil underneath, it's possible that this ground was especially compacted after construction (which is very common) and therefore the grass didn't take root well, and in its weak state, didn't overwinter.
It is also true that snow mold can be a problem in your area. If it is snow mold, the dead spots will be circular (roughly) and should create a peculiar sort of polkadot pattern on your lawn. In that case, confirm the ID with reputable garden center, and then ask them for a control product.
If the areas that are dying are large and don't seem to have any distinct pattern, it's probably just grass that died over winter. In that case, you'll need to reseed or resod the areas, and you should till the soil beforehand, to make sure the grass takes this time.
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