Answer: If your maple is a silver maple (Acer saccharinum), then shallow root growth is normal. There's risk of severe damage to the tree if you cut those roots. You mention another problem: the lawn is dying due to excess shade, and is a muddy. It sounds like there may be a drainage problem if the yard is muddy and grass is dying. There are species of grass that are shade-tolerant, but if there is indeed a drainage problem, (which can also make roots more prone to surface so they can "breathe"), that'll need attention first. Then you can bring spread a couple inches of topsoil over the affected area and seed with a shade tolerant fine fescue turfgrass. If a couple of inches won't cover the exposed roots, then add a more soil next year as neccessary. Before you invest a lot of time, effort and money, first consult a local landscaper or arborist. Best of luck to you!
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