Abstract With respect to groundwater quality problems, solute concentrations of the top groundwater are frequently used as a measure for the concentrations of the solute input by groundwater recharge. In a recharge area with sandy soils under arable land and coniferous forest, the land-use-specific concentration of nine solutes were measured at 39 points on six different sampling dates. The data, combined in one entire sample for each solute, were found log-normally distributed, except for nitrate concentration and pH for arable land and the concentration of aluminum and sulfate and pH for coniferous forest, which show a normal distribution. The variation coefficient of the mean concentration values is, in many cases, in the range of ≥ 100%. Under arable land we found higher concentrations of NO 3, K, Ca, Mg and Cl, but under coniferous forest higher concentrations of Al, SO 4 and H. According to the variograms, the measured data are spatially independent at lag distances of h ≥ 100 m. If land-use-specific, area-representative mean values of a given error probability (requiring a given sample size) are intended, information on the leaching behaviour of solutes in question is needed. For solutes with a pronounced concentration maximum during the annual course of leaching, like nitrate under arable land conditions, the variability in time must be taken into account when choosing the sampling strategy (repeated sampling at carefully timed sampling dates). For solutes without any pronounced annual course of leaching, like sulfate under coniferous forest, sampling at many points on only one sampling date will be appropriate.